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

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Port McNeill average priced home to pay $12 more in taxes

Residential property taxes in Port McNeill are going up

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Opening ceremony in remembrance of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day hosted by Quatsino First Nation. (Quatsino First Nation Facebook video screenshot)
VIDEO: Quatsino First Nation goes live for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day

May 5 is when the message behind all the red dresses hanging comes into sharpest focus

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council.
Port Hardy council to send RCMP officer a letter of congratulations

Mayor Dennis Dugas said Corp. Chris Voller ‘obviously earned it and he did a great job up here’

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

NEW CUTLINE Payphone use is declining dramatically. (Black Press Files)

This payphone sits just east of TD Bank in Parksville, on Harrison Avenue. (Emily Vance photo)
Last call approaches for Vancouver Island payphones?

Some payphones don’t get used for days as mobile phones diminishing need

Garden centre manager Jack Olszewski and Chris Beaudoin say business has grown by 50 per cent at the Sooke Home Hardware Store. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
Flower power: COVID restrictions fuel bloom boom on Vancouver Island’

More people seeking flowers to add colour, says Sooke landscaper

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Most Read