Edna Jedinak claims the last time she saw her 96-year-old mom was as she was being told by employees to leave the parking lot of the Priory on Goldstream, a long-term care facility in Langford.
“That’s my mom in there and it feels like I can’t do anything,” said Jedinak, a Langford resident. “I’m really disappointed and it was two days before Mother’s Day. She has dementia. If she dies without her family there, there’s gonna be hell to pay.”
Jedinak said she’s been volunteering at the Priory since 2017 when her mom, Anna, first entered the care facility. Pre-pandemic, Edna visited at least four days a week.
When the lockdown began in March, Jedinak was told she wasn’t allowed to continue visiting her mother indoors – that’s when Edna and her sister Sandra planned check-ins while sitting outside and her mother behind the window in her room.
It was short-lived though as Anna was moved to another room to accommodate her needs for a wheelchair lift. Edna quickly adapted by meeting her in the outdoor courtyard, while separated by a gate. When she showed up a few days before Mother’s Day, staff decided to draw their line and told her to leave.
“We have had some people showing up at the site to visit loved ones through fences and barriers, in some cases holding hands and passing items through the fences,” said Cheryl Bloxham, spokesperson for Island Health. “[This] …is not consistent with physical distancing measures and increases the risk of transmitting the virus.”
Bloxham pointed out that the policy is under review and they will be easing their visitor restrictions within long-term care in the near future. As of publication date, there hasn’t been a single outbreak at any Island Health long-term facilities.
Currently, there are 150 residents living at the Priory.
Island Health owned and operated long-term care facilities have invested in iPads and other tablets to introduce virtual visits between residents and their loved ones. They’re planning to begin around 15 to 20 virtual visits per week at each site. This is in addition to scheduled phone visits for families to connect with loved ones.
Jedinak was told that she got a call saying that she can schedule a 15 minute window visit with her mom. She’s confirmed to see her on Wednesday, May 27.
“I’m glad, but it’s been painful to watch this over the past two months. I think they’re so far behind. I know we can’t hug them or anything, but it’s a lot to see especially with my mom in her current state.”