'I almost threw up when I saw it,' Barrie, Ont., family says Roberta Place was shocking prior to outbreak
BARRIE, ONT. -- No one has been more devastated by the COVID-19 outbreak at a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home than those living inside and their families.
Joe and Anne Henderson have been married for 66 years. Joe, who has dementia, moved into Roberta Place three years ago, but the couple still managed to spend as much time as possible together.
"Before this pandemic, I was able to see him every day. I'd take him to lunch, over to Kelsey's, and he loved that," Anne says.
Anne's daughter, Joanne Durham, says nothing could have prepared their family for what was to come.
"She had to go from March until September without seeing him inside of Roberta Place," Durham tells CTV News through a video call Wednesday.
Durham says that when her mother was finally able to visit Joe inside the home in the fall, "she got the shock of her life."
"It looked like the room hadn't been cleaned for months," Anne says. "I was very upset, and I cried my eyes out when I came home.
There were clothes all over the place, garbage all over the place, and the toilet was filthy. I almost threw up when I saw it," Anne describes.
After hearing about the state of her father's living quarters, Durham immediately contacted the Ministry of Health.
"They went in and did a couple of surprise inspections, and they said I wasn't the first person who had complained," she says.
On Jan. 8, the health unit declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Barrie home. Six days later, Joe was diagnosed with it. Soon after, he was taken to the hospital.
"I was devastated," Anne says. "I was so glad he got out of Roberta Place when he did. Otherwise, I wouldn't have him today."
Durham says the situation is crushing. "It's very sad. It's a daily thing that we are losing friends of my dad's, friends of my mom's. And she sees pictures on the news of another one that has gone, and it's heartbreaking."
Joe remains in the hospital, battling both COVID-19 and pneumonia, but Anne says he is stable and in good spirits.
"He says, 'I'm tickety-boo.' No matter how he's feeling, he's tickety-boo," she chuckles.
To date, over 230 residents and staff tested positive for the virus. Nearly half the residents have died from it.