January 30, 2023

WARMINGTON – Resident Dies As COVID-19 Ravages Participation

As COVID-19 Ravages Participation

MARKHAM — It’s difficult to imagine the dark and dire situation at Participation House could get worse.

But it did.


WARMINGTON: Resident dies as COVID-19 ravages Participation

About Resident

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The story at the long-term care center for disabled adults has quickly shifted.

First, the center’s overwhelmed staff were abandoning their clients. The center got a bit of a lift when Jane Philpott, a doctor and former federal health minister, stepped up to help out.

WARMINGTON: Resident dies as COVID-19 ravages Participation

But now, there has been a death.

People were already concerned and worried that 37 of 42 residents, and a dozen staff at Participation House, were infected with the potentially-deadly virus.

Then word broke Wednesday that 58-year-old Martin Frogley had died — the first COVID-19-related fatality at the facility.

“He was a wonderful son, uncle, and the best brother anyone could ever ask for,” a statement from his family read.

Before this virus struck, he was doing fine. Now he’s gone.

Now his fellow residents are frightened. The goal now is to try to protect others in this residence.

In full protective gear, two York Region paramedics were tending to the many sick inside Participation House, which is adjacent to the Markham Stouffville Hospital. 

It’s all hands on deck — at least for those there.

Earlier this week, much of the staff fled — leaving an even bigger crisis behind. That is why Philpott dove in to help and why if you call Executive Director Shelley Brillinger, you get a phone message asking any interested personal support workers to step up.

One person who offered to help for free was Carrie Beatty, whose 60-year-old sister, Carolyn Bennett — born with cerebral palsy — has lived there since 1994.

“It has always been a wonderful place, and I want to assist,” said Carrie. “But they said I couldn’t because I don’t have the training.”

Ironically, many who had training jumped ship. Carrie’s reaction to their decision is nuanced.

“Shame on them,” she said at first, before adding, “in a way, I can’t blame them.”

Some staff was sick. Many feared becoming sick — while complaining they did not have proper protective equipment.

Carrie called Participation House a “special place in good times and bad.” She and her 90-year-old mom, Agnes, came Wednesday to see Carolyn but had to do so from an outside window.

“We brought her favorite peanut butter cookies,” said Agnes. “We dropped them at the front door. She was so happy to see us, and we were so happy to see her.”

They pray she’ll get through this without contracting the virus.

“The staff there has been amazing, and we want to thank Dr. Philpott, who has been there every day to check on the residents,” said Agnes.

With residences in Bobcaygeon at 29 deaths and Etobicoke’s Eatonville at 25, Carrie and her family are praying the number at Participation House stops at one.

Martin Frogley’s death is already one too many.

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