Although Ontario is entering its third stage of reopening, some citizen’s lives are still not going back to normal.
Ruth Tufex, 84-years-old, is a resident at The Village of Glendale Crossing – a long-term care home (LTC) in London, Ontario. Ruth is unvaccinated and has not been allowed to leave her LTC without the threat of being isolated for 14 days.
While fully vaccinated residents are allowed to come and go as they please, unvaccinated residents are held to a different standard and are being treated very differently.
On July 7, Ruth’s daughter Corina Morrison put in a request to take her mother out from the premises for a hair appointment – that request was denied.
In an email from the Pandemic Response Ministry of Long-Term Care, Corina was told only “fully-immunized residents” are allowed to leave the facility and in an email from the LTC she was told that, “Should you take your mom out without approval she will have to be in isolation for 14 days upon return, due to the risk of possible exposure and risk to the village.”
“I’m not upset with the facility, I know they’re following the Ministry’s rules,” Cornia told True North.
Corina took her mom out anyway, for her “mental well-being” as well as to get her hair done.
The general manager of the LTC, Cindy Awde, was informed that Ruth was taken out of the facility and emailed Corina to let her know her mother would now be isolated.
After a couple of days into Ruth’s isolation, Corina reached out to the LTC requesting for her mom to be taken out of quarantine and to instead be given a rapid COVID test. “My mother is healthier than our whole family put together. She’s a strong German woman,” Corina told True North. The general manager responded, in an email, that they will perform a rapid test if Corina wished but that her mother will still need to be isolated for the full 14 days no matter the test result. Awde ended her email with, “I did let you know this would happen if you chose to take her out.”
Corina and her family are challenging these regulations and continue to advocate for Ruth’s mental well-being.
The mandatory quarantine put in place by the Ministry of Health and the LTC has not stopped Corina’s family from making their daily visits to Ruth. From day one of Ruth’s quarantine, Corina has taken her mother out of her room to walk around the building, pushing her in a wheelchair for some fresh air.
Not only did the LTC threaten Ruth with isolation, which she is still in the middle of, but they also threatened to not let Ruth’s daughter Corina into the facility if she does not “follow the visiting rules/policy.”
“You want to frisk me, frisk me, handcuff me, put me in jail, whatever. I will walk through fire for my little mama,” Corina said.
Ruth has had two rapid tests done so far, both came back negative, but she is still not allowed to leave her room.
According to LTC’s rules, family members are allowed to visit, except when a resident is in isolation. The LTC is taking it a step further and now asking family members for proof of the vaccine.
If family members are not vaccinated, they are required to wear full PPE – including gown, boots and gloves – but “brief hugs are allowed for all visitors regardless of immunization status,” according to the Office of the Premier of Ontario.
Corina says she will wear her mask and face shield but has refused to wear full PPE when inside her mother’s room.
Ruth has been living in LTC for three years, she and her family have been very happy with the facility until now – since they started treating vaccinated and unvaccinated residents differently.
“The staff are part of our family and we had no issues until this vaccinated/unvaccinated isolation period when I took her out against policy. My health is not great and there is no way I would be able to offer my mom the socializing, activities and care that a home offers,” Corina told True North.
The biggest issue the family has is that unvaccinated staff and family members are allowed to come in and out of the facility but Ruth, and other unvaccinated residents, can not. Corina says the rules are “inconsistent and ambiguous” and she just wants her “mom and any other unvaccinated person to be treated equally.”
Schlegel Villages Inc. owns The Village of Glendale Crossing, where Ruth is a resident and currently being isolated at, and is in the middle of a $110M class action lawsuit for gross neglect.
The company owns 19 long-term care and retirement Villages across Ontario and the lawsuit was filed in 2020 against the Village at St. Clair in Windsor for failing to protect residents from a mass spread of COVID. During this outbreak, 63 residents died according to the province. Will Davidson LLP initiated the lawsuit and alleged gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the Occupiers’ Liability Act, breach of the human rights code and wrongful death.
True North reached out to The Village of Glendale Crossing for comment but has not heard back by the time of publication of this article.
Corina is currently working with a lawyer and is in touch with her local representatives.