Opinion: My mom’s Burnaby complex has a COVID-19 patient. It's nerve-wracking

Chris Campbell

So here I was after deadline, on Wednesday evening, trying to wrap up those loose ends that never seem to get tied up.

I had just gotten off the phone with one of the NOW reporters discussing the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on the newspaper business (you’ll notice our print edition is much thinner this week than normal because most local businesses have closed their doors) when an email popped into my inbox from Fraser Health.

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It was about a senior being diagnosed with COVID-19 in Burnaby. As I scanned the news release to see where in Burnaby this patient had been diagnosed, I thought the care home - Swedish Assisted Living Residence - sounded familiar.

And then it hit me – it was the same complex where my 80-year-old mother lives.

I felt like all the blood was quickly draining out of my body and someone was pouring a carbonated beverage on my brain.

When I finally gathered myself together, I was suddenly faced with a choice.

Call my mother right away and then write the story or write the story and then call my mother.

I’m a great journalist, but apparently a terrible son based on the choice I went with that night. You can read the story here.

In fairness to myself, I knew it wasn’t my mother who was sick because she doesn’t actually live in the assisted living section of this complex.

Mom resides in the independent living area, which is separated on the property.

Source: Getty Images

The story didn’t take long to write because there weren’t many details. The patient is in self-isolation and aFraser Health “SWAT team” was at the site. I didn’t realize this team was tagged with such a dramatic name, but there you go.

When I was done writing and posting online, I called mom and she said she hadn’t heard and now she is worried. She’s been staying home every day, no matter how much cabin fever she is in, which is good. It’s hard because she’s active in volunteering, but she’s playing it smart and staying put.

On Thursday afternoon, I checked in with her and she said she hadn’t been notified by anyone in the building about the case. No notice under the door or phone call or email.

I found that a little weird. The seniors in this complex deserve some kind of official notification and a reminder to stay home. Not everyone follows the news or has an editor for a terrible son.

I know in my heart my mom is safe at home, but that’s logic talking and emotions are what scream the loudest in your head when you lay down to go to sleep.

All I can think about is how fast COVID-19 seems to spread in care homes. My heart breaks for the residents and the staff.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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