Family devastated as COVID-19 claims its first registered nurse in Canada

The first registered nurse in Canada to die from COVID-19 complications is being remembered for his sharp sense of humour and dedication to helping others. 

Brian Beattie, 57, worked as an RN at Kensington Village, a long-term care facility in London, Ont., where multiple staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement released Wednesday, Beattie’s niece described his devotion to helping others.

“My family is devastated,” the statement from Amber Beattie reads. “We did not see him often, due to his dedication to his work, but we all spoke to him frequently via phone calls or texts. The times spent with him included a few drinks, some swear words, and lots of laughter! He had an amazing sense of humour, just as my grandparents always did and my dad does.

“He was dedicated to his work. He loved his job — we always knew that. However, since his passing, hearing all the stories from colleagues and those he cared for truly opens our eyes on how much he touched others’ lives.”

Linda Silas, national president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses, confirmed Wednesday that Beattie is Canada’s first registered nurse to die of complications from the coronavirus. 

Silas said the time between Beattie contracting the virus and his hospitalization was “quite quick.” 

“We knew that we had a nurse that was on a ventilator,” said Silas, “and we know that there are more than one nurse on ventilator, we just don’t know the details.”

An outbreak of COVID-19 was declared at Kensington Village on April 3. (Google Maps)


Silas praised Beattie’s commitment to the job at a time when the pandemic has taken a terrible toll on long-term care homes across Canada and around the world. 

“He called his colleagues and his residents his ‘other family,’ and that is so typical of long-term care workers,” said Silas. “They continue to go to work because they’re dealing with their second families, and Brian was like that.”

Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton said she was saddened to hear of Beattie’s death. 

“Words cannot express my sincere appreciation for all our health-care heroes working tirelessly every day to stop COVID-19, and to keep us all safe,” Fullerton said in a statement.

According to a statement from Leslie DuCharme, Kensington Village’s director of operations, eight staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. The residence first declared an outbreak on April 3. Since then, five residents have died at the facility.

Three residents have active cases of the illness, and three others have recovered.

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DuCharme, who declined to be interviewed, said Beattie will be missed.

“This death is felt deeply by our residents and our care team, and we mourn together as a community.”

The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) said it is also mourning Beattie’s death. 

Nurse Brian Beattie, centre, who recently died of COVID-19, is seen here with some of his co-workers. (Submitted by Amber Overholt)

Kensington Village is one of 174 long-term care facilities in Ontario experiencing outbreaks, which have resulted in more than 1,200 COVID-19 deaths in the province.

That grim data has prompted Premier Doug Ford to promise a review of the province’s long-term care system, though he refused the New Democrats’ request for a full public inquiry.

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