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Plush toys and flowers outside Residence Herron in the Montreal suburb of Dorval, Que., on May 10, 2020.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

A nurse told a Quebec coroner’s inquest today that a Montreal-area long-term care home where dozens of people died during the first wave of COVID-19 was understaffed and lacked proper equipment even before the pandemic hit.

Veronique Bosse, who worked as director of care at Residence Herron from September 2019 to January 2020, said on Monday there were not enough washcloths and mattress protectors for all the residents when she began work.

Bosse told coroner Gehane Kamel that there was also a lack of staff before the pandemic.

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How Quebec’s response to COVID-19 left 4,000 dead in long-term care homes

She said the ratio of health-care workers to patients was inadequate, and the residence was dealing with frequent staff turnover.

Bosse said the lack of employees was a result of low wages, adding that patient attendants in the residence were earning $12 an hour in 2019.

The coroner inquiry’s mandate is to investigate 53 deaths at six long-term care homes and one seniors residence.

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