Woman with COVID-19 recovers, now home after losing husband to virus

Sarnia’s Landmark Village retirement home. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

One Sarnia family’s experience with COVID-19 has come to a bittersweet conclusion.

Ella Metcalfe, 88, was discharged from Bluewater Health on Friday after a month-long battle with the novel coronavirus.

She was admitted to hospital the same day as her husband. But Gordon Metcalfe’s health continued to decline and he died on April 8.

Gordon Metcalfe is survived by three children, four stepchildren, 10 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

“I know how hard it’s been for me, going through all this, so I can’t even imagine what she’s been through,” said daughter Crystal Stark, shortly before picking up Ella at hospital and bringing her mother to her own home to live.

“I just can’t wait to hug her and talk to her.”

Ella and Gordon spent their last week together in the hospital’s COVID unit in early April. A nurse pushed their beds together and they were able to hold each other’s hand through that final night.

“They really had a special relationship, her and my dad,” Stark said.

The couple had lived at Landmark Village, the first Sarnia-Lambton senior home to experience an outbreak and the hardest-hit to date.

Beginning March 26, 30 residents and 10 staff tested positive, and six residents died. After no new cases were reported for two weeks Lambton Public Health declared the outbreak over May 6.

The Metcalfes had both been feeling sick in later March and became largely confined to bed, Stark said. When Gordon’s temperature shot up they were both taken to Bluewater Health on April 1.

“To be honest, I thought it was the last time I was going to talk to my mother. She was petrified of going to the hospital,” Stark said.

“I said, ‘Mom, it’s OK. Go to the hospital, they’re going to help you. They’re going to help you get better.’”

Because of a hearing impairment Ella Metcalfe had difficulty communicating with the mask-wearing doctors and nurses. Her physical condition improved but she continued to test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

“It’s been hard. She would call me upset at night, wanting me to come get her. It’s hard to explain, when she can’t hear me properly, why I can’t come get her.”

Stark said she is thankful that hospital staff were there for the couple when she and other family members couldn’t be.

“Our family will miss our dad and grandfather,” Stark said.

“Our mother’s life will never be the same. But we’ll do our best to make her as happy as possible.”