Nurse who worked in long-term care home in Mississauga dies of COVID-19

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The family, friends and colleagues of a nurse who worked in a long-term care home in Mississauga are remembering a woman they say was an "incredible and loving person" and a "compassionate nurse." 

On Jan. 6, SEIU Healthcare, a union that represents more than 60,000 frontline workers in Canada, confirmed that 57-year-old Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) Maureen Ambersley died of COVID-19. 

According to a statement released by SEIU Healthcare, Ambersley worked at the Extendicare nursing home in Mississauga. Data published on Peel Public Health's website indicates that Extendicare has been in outbreak since Dec. 18, 2020, with 14 resident cases and 13 staff cases reported. 

SEIU Healthcare said that Ambersley passed away yesterday (Jan. 5) and leaves behind her parents and two children. 

She was an RPN for over 16 years.

"Maureen's family, friends and colleagues are in deep sorrow. On behalf of our union family, I extend our deepest sympathies to Maureen's family, as well as her close friends and colleagues who we know loved her like a sister," Sharleen Stewart, SEIU Healthcare president, said in a statement. 

"Maureen represented everything good about what it means to serve your community. For her last birthday, she encouraged friends to make donations to SickKids Hospital Foundation. Maureen dedicated her working life to caring for our most vulnerable as a nurse in long-term care." 

The union says that Ambersley is the fourth member of SEIU Healthcare to die during the pandemic.

"Christine Mandegarian, personal support worker (PSW), Arlene Reid, PSW, Sharon Roberts, PSW, and now Maureen Ambersley, RPN, were all women of colour serving on the frontline who died because they showed up to work in service of their community," Stewart said. 

"It must be said that the death of healthcare workers is preventable and the result of ongoing policy failures." 

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, offered her condolences to Ambersley's loved ones. 

"My deepest sympathies to her family, friends and colleagues, and all those suffering loss during this unprecedented pandemic," Fullerton said in a statement.

"Every day, our frontline heroes come to work and selflessly support our loved ones. I am so grateful for all their dedication as we continue to confront the second wave of the virus." 

In a statement, Stewart said that the province must do more to protect workers and residents in long-term care, where the virus has taken a substantial toll. 

"As Ontario families bury more workers and residents in long-term care, we reiterate our demand of the provincial government for a new action plan to get us through this out-of-control crisis," she said. 

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