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

Bella Coola Valley Arts Council’s (BCVAC) Ida Eriksen enjoys a full life since retiring to the Bella Coola Valley Coola in 2013. She volunteers for BCVAC and likes to carve out time for art, gardening and hiking. (Photo submitted)
Art House Gallery keeps community connections close during COVID times

An art sale of the artwork of Ernest and Jill Hall will take place this weekend

A grass fire west of Williams Lake, seen here Tuesday, is considered to be being held by members of the BC Wildfire Service. (Photo submitted)
Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

A black bear tries to get at a bird feeder at a home near Williams Lake. (Laura Ulrich photo)
Managing bear attractants a top priority in B.C. for 2021: Conservation Officer Service

Garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders, compost and livestock are common attractants for bears

B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. (B.C. Cattlemen’s Association photo)
COVID, BSE, water access and private land rights: B.C. Cattlemen’s general manager weighs in

Kevin Boon said positive aspect of pandemic is more people interested in where their food comes from

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital 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
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

Most Read