‘I had never seen deaths happen so quickly’: Quebec nursing home gave COVID patients morphine instead of virus treatments

COVID-19, a respiratory illness, can cause severe breathing problems, especially in old people. And common side effects of the drugs the COVID patients at one Quebec nursing home were given are slowed or stopped breathing.

LAVAL, Quebec, July 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A Quebec nurse has testified that in accordance with provincial health department directives, her long-term care home administered morphine to coronavirus patients instead of caring for them to prolong their lives.

“I had never seen deaths happen so quickly,” Sylvie Morin told the Globe and Mail. Morin was an assistant chief nurse at Sainte-Dorothée, a long-term care (LTC) home where more than 100 residents died last year during the “first wave” of COVID-19.

She explained that the nursing home staff were instructed to give the residents thought to have COVID-19 a “respiratory distress protocol” that included morphine, the sedative Ativan, and the anti-nausea drug scopolamine. The Mayo Clinic notes that common side effects of injected morphine are “difficult or troubled breathing,” “irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing,” “shortness of breath,” and “very slow breathing.”

COVID-19, a respiratory illness, can cause severe breathing problems, especially in old people. (For healthy people under 65, the survival rate of the coronavirus is extremely high and the virus, especially with early treatment, does not cause severe breathing problems.)

“You should not take morphine if you have severe asthma or breathing problems…Morphine can slow or stop your breathing,” warns, a popular reference website that offers “free, peer-reviewed, accurate and independent data on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines.”

Of Ativan, the Mayo Clinic warns, “This medicine may cause respiratory depression (serious breathing problem that can be life-threatening), especially when used with narcotic pain medicines.”

Morin said the protocol is “not what kills the person. It makes them more comfortable,” but pointed out that she had never seen such a rapid track to death.

“The person had symptoms, we tested, we got the results 24-48 hours later. A day later, they were dead. It wasn’t long.”

“They didn’t all die but most did,” said Morin.

The nursing home procedures stemmed from provincial Health Department orders, which were designed to “offload 80 per cent of hospital patients who didn’t need acute care,” so that hospitals weren’t overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.