The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)

B.C. son surprised by lack of follow-up after elderly father’s COVID-19 diagnosis

Jeff Garrad worried isolated seniors may be left to fend for themselves if they contract virus

A Semiahmoo Peninsula man whose elderly father is recovering after a bout with COVID-19 is concerned for other isolated seniors battling the virus at home, after learning how Fraser Health is supporting some of those patients.

Jeff Garrad told Peace Arch News earlier this month that in late February, his 87-year-old father went to Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock after not feeling well for a few days. During a follow-up phone call a few days later, the senior – now back at home, where he lives alone – learned he had tested positive for COVID-19.

And while his dad is now “fortunately on the mend,” Garrad told PAN he was surprised at the lack of follow-up calls from medical professionals that his father – who also suffers from a condition called dysphagia, in which swallowed food can end up in a person’s lungs – received.

He noted a colleague, who is in his 60s, received daily calls from a nurse while battling the virus last year.

Fraser Health officials told PAN that the health authority changed some of its procedures over time, as more was learned about the virus and its impacts. However, “assistance remains available to everyone,” a spokesperson said.

• READ ALSO: COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C. – here’s how to sign up

Garrad said early in his father’s 14-day quarantine period, they received calls from contact tracers, but noted that “any medical information provided was basically in the form of a (PDF).” The documents, he noted, “contained mostly information already known from watching the news.”

“I was advised to watch for symptoms for my father. Trick is, most of the symptoms described are things 87-year-olds experience every day,” Garrad said.

“So I was left without medical monitoring to assess my dad’s symptoms and severity of his condition, while having a virus that seems to specialize in killing people exactly like him – old with pre-existing conditions.

“There were no calls from any medically qualified people from Fraser Health to monitor my Dad’s condition – that apparently was up to me. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t even been there. I wonder how many other 87 year-olds with COVID have been left to self-monitor a pandemic disease that may very well kill them?”

Garrad said when he recently asked a contact-tracing supervisor why more medical follow-ups were not being done, he was told that “we no longer make those calls to COVID patients.”

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have learned a lot about the virus, including how it impacts patients and how patients need to be supported. This knowledge has helped us refine our support for patients and the services we provide,” Fraser Health’s Aletta Vanderheyden told PAN by email.

“Over the past year, we have learned that not all people with COVID-19 need daily phone calls as many are able to follow instructions provided by the contact tracing team and can seek medical support if needed.

“Currently, we support up to 500 calls daily from people who are at home with COVID-19,” she added.

Garrad noted that his dad was lucky to have someone stay with him and care for him, but reiterated that not all seniors or vulnerable people have the same luxury.

“This whole series of events had me thinking about others in Dad’s situation who were not so lucky, and makes me wonder how many of them have been included in the very high case count and COVID death numbers in Fraser Health,” he said.



editorial@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusFraser Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood, this includes protecting one’s home by moving equipment and other assets from these areas to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-normal spring flood season

High-streamflow advisory issued for the Cariboo Region and areas including Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

RCMP cruiser, no date.
One man apprehended after high-risk situation in Ashcroft

Distraught man made threats directed at police, potentially had access to firearms

Janice Maurice, president of the South Cariboo Museum Society, and vice-president Peter Brandle, hope to see the Clinton Museum reopen its doors this spring. (Kelly Sinoski - 100 Mile Free Press).
Clinton Museum anticipated to reopen this year

Society board waiting to hear from province on health orders.

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read