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

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Coldstream students took over the Your Letters page in the April 9, 2021, edition of the Vernon Morning Star to offer advice to adults about COVID-19. Interior Health took notice and offered their praise. (Vernon Morning Star)
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Grade 2 and 3 classes from a North Okanagan elementary took over Letters page of this Black Press newspaper

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read