‘The fear is living on’: Winnipeg mom shares experience after family contracts COVID-19

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg mom is sharing her family’s experience after they all contracted COVID-19.

It’s been a difficult few weeks for Amanda Kerr’s family with the virus hitting hard, resulting in the loss of one family member and another ending up in the hospital.

“Most of us are getting back to normal, except my husband unfortunately needs to be on oxygen,” said Kerr.

The events that led Kerr’s family to contract COVID-19 began at the end of September. Kerr’s mother-in-law Hildegard Adam was admitted to Victoria General Hospital after a fall.

Kerr said a few weeks later, her husband Frank Adam and his sister were able to go visit their mother in the hospital. On Oct. 20, their family got a call saying Hildegard may have COVID-19.

“Within a couple of days, my husband and his sister started having COVID symptoms, so we all isolated immediately, but by then my husband had spread it to myself and my daughter.”

In total, Kerr’s family of three, five members of her sister-in-law’s family, and her mother-in-law all tested positive for COVID-19.

Kerr said Hildegard was transferred from Victoria General Hospital to St. Boniface Hospital after contracting COVID-19 and wasn’t allowed visitors at the time.

The virus took a tragic and deadly turn, resulting in the loss of Hildegard, 88, on Nov. 8.

“We weren’t expecting her to pass away quite so soon, so it was sad for us, but the most heartbreaking part of it is that my husband and his sister, my mother-in-law’s two children, couldn’t be with her at the end,” said Kerr.

“Fortunately, one of her grandchildren that did not have COVID was able to be with her at the last minute, and hold her hand, and FaceTimed with us, so we could say our goodbyes.”

Hildegard Adam

(Hildegard Adam, 88, passed away from COVID-19 on Nov. 8, 2020. Image source: Amanda Kerr)

Kerr said her own symptoms were similar to the flu, but much worse and lasting much longer. Her 15-year-old daughter Kya Adam had more mild symptoms, while her husband, who is 59, ended up in the hospital for two weeks. He’s now at home, though still recovering.

“We certainly have seen the full range of what COVID-19 can do to a person or a family.”

It has been almost a month since Kerr’s family tested positive for the virus. She said since the start of the pandemic, her family has taken COVID-19 seriously and has followed the advice of public health officials.

“I certainly didn’t expect if we got COVID, that we would be impacted in this way, so it does take you a bit by surprise when you actually have it, because the virus is not like a normal flu,” said Kerr.

While Kerr and her daughter are feeling much better than they did nearly a month ago, Frank is still dealing with the lasting effects.

“The fear is living on unfortunately, because we don’t know how he’s going to fare. How much of a recovery he’s going to be able to make,” said Kerr. “The most fearful part of this whole thing is not knowing the long-term impacts of this infection, and how it might affect our life going forward.”

Kerr said she’s still puzzled at how her mother-in-law contracted the virus in the first place, and how it spread through both staff and patients.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it could not comment on specific cases, but did say the safety of staff and patients is a top priority.

As for how COVID-19 has spread within hospitals, the WRHA noted community spread is high in Winnipeg right now, and it’s challenging to determine definitively whether a person was infected in a hospital.

“Our staff are supplied with personal protective equipment recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s current recommendations and is reviewed regularly, however, we recognize that staff also need to leave their units and proceed throughout their daily lives without the same level of PPE,” said the WRHA in a statement to CTV News. “COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus if precautions are not being followed and can be passed between individuals who are both feeling perfectly healthy.” 

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