Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
A French woman only found out her father had died of coronavirus after she received a text from a funeral home asking for her permission to cremate the body.
The complaint claiming involuntary manslaughter, failure to assist a person in danger and jeopardy of others was filed on 10th April in Grasse in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeast France.
It was filed by relatives of four dead residents in an EHPAD (Etablissement d’Hebergement pour Personnes Agees Dependantes; a type of care home for the elderly) government-run nursing home in Mougins, near Cannes, where COVID-19 killed 36 people.
Among the complainants was Catherine Guilleux, whose father Jacques Petitgirard, 87, was staying in the nursing home. According to Guilleux, her father, a former engineer at IBM, died on 29th March but the nursing home did not notify her.
She says that she instead later received a text message from a funeral home, adding: “I was asked for my identity card and authorisation for cremation. My eyes widened, I read it three times, I didn’t get a phone call.
“It’s probably a combination of circumstances, but the EHPAD hadn’t called to say my dad was ill.”
Speaking of the complaint, she said: “It’s too late for me, but if I’m involved (in this complaint), it’s for the children of those who are still in the EHPADs.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, named in reports by his surname Arakelian, said: “They have learned of the tragic deaths of their parents… in aberrant and dramatic conditions, without being able to be at their side at the painful end of their lives, and sometimes without being able to pay them a last tribute.”
Reports state that other elderly people have died without their loved ones being informed.
According to Mr Arakelian, a woman named Marie-Louise Borgnet, who was placed in a government-run nursing home in January, died on 23rd March at the age of 87 without her family knowing the circumstances.
The lawyer said: “It would appear that the establishment had in fact taken away Marie-Louise’s mobile phone.
“Her nephew still knows nothing about the circumstances of her death.”
Arnaud, the grandson of Odette Noyer, 94, who died in a government-run nursing home on the French Riviera, says: “24th March was her birthday. We couldn’t go and see her. But what drives me crazy is that she died in a corner, like an animal. They’re going to pay dearly for that.”
Reacting to the news, the Mayor of Mougins, Dr Richard Galy, said: “An EHPAD is a potential cluster, we have to react very quickly and that’s what hasn’t been done.
“This drama must never happen again in France.”
The ViralTab page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.