A personal support worker at a Windsor long-term care home dealing with an outbreak has died after contracting COVID-19.
In a news release on Saturday, Unifor confirmed that 60-year-old Sheila Yakovishin died on New Year’s Eve. The union said Yakovishin worked for more than 30 years at Berkshire Care Centre, where an outbreak declared in early December has since resulted in 82 residents and 38 staff members testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
“On behalf of our union, I express the deepest condolences to Sheila’s family and all those who knew and loved her. Unifor mourns with you, as we decry her preventable death,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
“As the New Year begins, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage unchecked in Ontario’s for-profit long-term care homes. It must be stopped, we must protect health care workers from this disease. Ontario should have learned its lesson during the first wave, but LTC workers and residents are still left at risk across the province.”
According to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, there are 20 outbreaks at long-term care and retirement homes in the region.
“These rising statistics of infections among workers in Windsor’s for-profit LTC centres are more than numbers. They are people like Sheila, with full lives to live, people who deserve like we all do, to come home safe from work,” said Tullio DiPonti, president of Unifor Local 2458.
The Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, said in a post on Twitter that she is heartbroken.
“Our frontline health care workers have been working tirelessly each and every day to help stop the spread of the virus, and we are extremely grateful for all that they do to keep us all safe,” she said in a statement.
“My thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.”
There are currently 188 long-term care homes in the province with active outbreaks.
CUPE and the Ontario Health Coalition have called on the province to send the military again to nursing homes to address the outbreaks.