Son mourns father who died in Pinecrest outbreak

By Sue Tiffin

Kevin DesRoches's dad Elmer moved into Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon in May 2018.

"Dad loved it there" Kevin told the Echo . "He made friends quickly and the nurses doted [on] him. He looked forward each week to going to the Legion for his pint of beer and chat with the patrons."

Elmer was the father of four an extrovert and a born salesman with a loyalty to the Royal Canadian Legion in honour of his brother who died in the Second World War. "His ability to make friends and his love of helping people" were what Kevin loved most about him.

"He made a lot of friends here in town" said Kevin speaking of when Elmer lived with him for 10 months prior to moving to Pinecrest. "He liked to go to McKeck's or to the Maple Ave. for a pint at lunchtime so he made a lot of friends here. In fact one day he got disoriented and he was in the bank and one of the tellers walked him all the way home. You don't get that in big cities. People looked out for him because they knew he was my dad."

About three weeks ago the 87-year-old man was feeling unwell at the same time that Pinecrest Nursing Home announced an outbreak of COVID-19 in the facility.

"I thought he would get over it" said Kevin. "But as time went on he got worse then better then worse even more. It weakened him to the point of [being] non-responsive fever not eating or drinking" adding later "It was a rollercoaster ride. He had his good days and then the next day would be twice as bad as it was before. It was terrible and the worst part was that I couldn't be there to hold his hand and comfort him and that sucked."

Visits to long-term care homes across the province are restricted during the COVID-19 outbreak.

On April 1 at 8 p.m. a nurse from the home called Kevin to ask him to come and say goodbye.

"They wheeled his bed over close to the window and woke him up and he gave me a little bit of a smile and he gave my son a wink and then he went back to sleep. And that was the last time I saw him alive" said Kevin.

Elmer died on the afternoon of April 3 and though he was not tested for COVID-19 his death certificate notes the virus as the cause of death. One of his best friends who was born a year apart from Elmer came from the same small town in Prince Edward Island and was a fellow resident at Pinecrest Nursing Home had died that morning.

"I hope no one ever has to deal with this" said Kevin.

Pinecrest Nursing Home a 65-bed long-term care facility has been the site of the largest outbreak in Ontario since mid-March. To date 26 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported at the facility as well as the death of a spouse of a resident.

"This is truly a horrible time for the families and friends of the residents as well as our staff" said Mary Carr administrator of Pinecrest Nursing Home in a March 26 press release. "We have a number of medically fragile and vulnerable people living in our home; our residents are like family to our staff. Our sympathies go out to all of the families and friends of the people we have lost."

At press time 4347 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Ontario with 132 deaths and 1624 cases resolved. Two cases have been confirmed in Haliburton County.