Second World War veteran David Thiessen of Abbotsford is one of 25 people at Tabor Home who have died of COVID-19 since an outbreak began there in early November.

Second World War veteran David Thiessen of Abbotsford is one of 25 people at Tabor Home who have died of COVID-19 since an outbreak began there in early November.

War veteran in Abbotsford dies of COVID three weeks after 100th birthday

David Thiessen among 25 COVID-related deaths at Tabor Home

An Abbotsford woman whose dad is one of the 25 COVID-19-related deaths at Tabor Home has nothing but praise for the staff who work there.

Josey McIntosh said she feels that workers at the facility have unfairly received “a lot of negative feedback” in the midst of what has become B.C.’s largest outbreak at a long-term care home.

McIntosh said she and her family are “very happy” with the care that her dad, David Thiessen, received during his time at Tabor Home.

She said the staff are to be commended for “putting their lives, and that of their families, at risk every time they walk in that door” during the outbreak.

“I feel that the staff are very caring, and they’re very compassionate. (Some of) the residents have been there a long time, and they’re like family to them,” said McIntosh, a former nurse who worked at Menno Hospital for many years.

Her dad was recently featured in an Abbotsford News article for Remembrance Day. Thiessen was a Second World War veteran who celebrated his 100th birthday on Nov. 11 this year.

RELATED: Abbotsford veteran turns 100 on Remembrance Day

He first moved to Tabor Court in 2013, and then to Tabor Home five years later when his health worsened, including the onset of dementia.

Thiessen’s family had hoped to have a celebration for his birthday. But due to COVID-19 restrictions that limit inside visits to one family member once a week, only McIntosh had expected to be able to go into the home and hoped that other family members could visit at the window.

But because even window visits are curtailed during COVID outbreaks, the family wasn’t sure they would get to see Thiessen at all on his birthday. (The outbreak began Nov. 4.)

However, McIntosh said Tabor Home staff went out of their way to make the day special. She said 37 family members, following social-distancing protocols, were permitted to gather outside a window.

They carried big “Happy Birthday!” signs and balloons, and each family group was able to talk to Thiessen on the phone.

“He recognized us all, and just seemed to enjoy the whole celebration,” McIntosh said.

She said after the celebration, staff took all the balloons and posters and put them up in Thiessen’s room.

McIntosh said it was 11 days later – on Nov. 22 – that she got a phone call to inform her that her dad had contracted the virus. She said it was a difficult call to receive, even though she had been “half expecting” it because so many residents were testing positive. (As of Dec. 14, 93 residents and 63 staff – 156 total cases – had tested positive since the start of the outbreak, and there were seven active cases.)

McIntosh said her dad didn’t have any symptoms for the first couple of days, but then he developed overwhelming fatigue.

“That’s what took him down. He didn’t have the fever or the heart problems, difficulty breathing or anything that some people have. He was just so tired and then stayed in bed more and ate less, and it took its toll that way,” she said.

In the days leading up to her dad’s death on Dec. 5, McIntosh said she was in contact every day with staff at Tabor Home. If her dad was able, she would talk to him on the phone or have a video chat.

One nurse took a picture of Thiessen on her cellphone and sent it to McIntosh.

As Thiessen’s health worsened and the end was drawing near, McIntosh said the family had to decide whether they would sit by his bedside.

But McIntosh and her husband both have compromised immune systems. Their daughter is a licensed practical nurse in Mission and her son is a care aide in Abbotsford, and they didn’t want to risk contracting the virus.

They made the difficult decision to forgo bedside visits, and the staff arranged to transfer Thiessen to a room with a window that was accessible from the parking lot.

RELATED: Tabor Home in Abbotsford records 24 COVID deaths, on par with Langley Lodge

“They brought his whole bed there, and they put up some of the cards and pictures on the wall so that if he did open his eyes it would look like he was still in his room,” McIntosh said.

A nurse held a phone to Thiessen’s ear so that the family could say their goodbyes and sing and pray to him.

McIntosh said her dad did not seem to be in a lot of pain or distress, and he died peacefully. She said his death is “a sad time, but also joyful.”

“I know he’s in Heaven, and that’s where he wanted to go.”

The family now plans to bury Thiessen’s ashes in Manitoba, where he was born and lived until 1987, when he came to B.C. with his second wife, Margaret. His first wife (and McIntosh’s mom), Liddy, who died in 1977, is buried in Manitoba.

A memorial service will wait until restrictions are lifted that limit the number of people who can attend.



vhopes@abbynews.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 photo)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed in School District 69 (Qualicum)

Individual was at PASS/Woodwinds, with a last date of attendance of Jan. 22

The Qualicum Beach Cafe team: from left, host owner Eli Brennan, general manager Amy Turner, host owner/chef Alan Tse, chef de cuisine Todd Bright, sous chef Jack Mitchell and pastry chef/baker Noemie Girard. (Submitted photo)
Fresh start: Qualicum Beach Cafe set to offer West Coast dining

New operators bring wealth of culinary, hospitality experience

Professional hockey goalie Connor LaCouvee of Qualicum Beach. (PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach goalie Connor LaCouvee joins AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners

Backstop returns to North America after stint in Slovakia

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Most Read