CHSLD Herron owner made desperate calls to Quebec helpline as 1st wave of COVID hit


In newly released recordings, the owner of CHSLD Herron – one of the hardest-hit long-term care homes in the province during the pandemic – can be heard repeatedly asking for government help during the first wave. .

The owner of the private seniors’ residence, Samantha Chowieri, and her spouse called 811, a public information line for health emergencies, because they said the regional health authority, the CIUSSS de l West Island, didn’t answer the phone.

“We really need support,” Chowieri told the operator in a March 28, 2020 call. “I don’t know if there’s anyone you could talk to.”

The pair of recordings from the owner of the Herron, where 47 people died in the spring of 2020, was entered into evidence for the coroner’s inquest into deaths in Quebec seniors’ residences during the first wave of the pandemic.

The release of the phone calls follows an email revealing that the Legault government had learned of the crisis at the Herron long-term care home in the West Island of Montreal 10 days before the situation was made public by the Gazette. of Montreal in April 2020.

The West Island CIUSSS took over the long-term care home a day after Chowieri called 811 for help.

In March 2020, Chowieri told the operator that the Dorval long-term care home was understaffed after employees fell ill. Residents and at least one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19, she said. Staff have been asked to self-isolate at home.

Chowieri also said he asked the CIUSSS to send reinforcements to administer tests to residents with reduced mobility.

“There are residents upstairs who need a drink,” she said in a phone call to the helpline the next day. “Our situation will be really serious, and I don’t think people understand the magnitude of it.”

Danielle McCann, who was health minister at the time, said she would not comment further on the situation “out of respect for the families”.

“I testified to the coroner [Géhane] Kamel’s inquest,” she said. “We have to wait for the conclusion of the coroner’s inquest.”

Opposition parties demand clarification

Opposition parties say the Legault government must clarify who knew about what was happening at CHSLD Herron during the first wave of the pandemic and when they found out.

“These recordings are disturbing and honestly they are a shame for a society like Quebec,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson for Quebec solidaire.

“Mr. Legault cannot take credit for what is going well and throw people under the bus for what is going wrong.”

Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade says it’s hard to listen to the calls because you can hear the urgency.

“It was critical and I don’t understand why the government didn’t do anything, why ministers didn’t do anything,” she said.

A spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île said the council would not make any further comments to respect the coroner’s inquest process.