Celebrated neuroscientist dies during COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton General

A prominent Edmonton neuroscientist has died of COVID-19, after contracting the virus at the Edmonton General Care facility.

Eighty-year-old Dr. Richard Stein died on Nov. 3, after testing positive for the novel coronavirus on Oct. 23.

As of Thursday, 25 deaths have been connected to the Edmonton General. The facility is still battling the outbreak, with 66 active cases among residents and patients and an additional 66 among staff.

Read more: 10 deaths, dozens of COVID-19 cases at South Terrace long-term care facility in Edmonton

His daughter, Dr. Ellie Stein, said she has been reflecting on his personal and professional life.

The scientist was known worldwide for his work with biomedical devices, including the WalkAide which helps those with a “foot drop” (a type of neurological damage causing the foot to not lift properly).

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Dr. Stein working with the Walkaide
Dr. Stein working with the Walkaide. Courtesy: Dr. Ellie Stein

“He developed stimulation devices, that would artificially stimulate people’s muscles in a way similar to what there nerves would have done if they were working,” Stein said.

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Stein said her father, who worked at the University of Alberta for 50 years, was also an incredibly “decent” man, who always helped students.

“Students emailed me and told me about how he made a difference in their lives, how he gave them a chance when others wouldn’t.”

Read more: New restrictions announced for Alberta as 860 COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths reported Thursday

Stein was a resident at the Edmonton General for the past two years. Until COVID-19, Stein — who is a psychiatrist in Calgary — visited every few weeks. Her mom, Sue, was there everyday.

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Sue and Richard Stein in an undated photo
Sue and Richard Stein in an undated photo. Courtesy: Dr. Ellie Stein

The outbreak was declared in October and the centre was locked down. During her last visit, Stein said her dad wasn’t himself.

“I had already scheduled to visit my dad on Oct. 19. We were still allowed in, but my dad just wasn’t himself. He wasn’t as responsive as usual. It never occurred to me he had COVID-19.”

Stein said he spiked a fever soon after.

“We did get to say our goodbyes [over the phone], that was so important,” she said. “All I can say is it’s heartbreaking. You feel so helpless.”

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Dr. Richard Stein and an associate in an undated photo
Dr. Richard Stein and an associate in an undated photo. Courtesy: Dr. Ellie Stein

Though her father’s career path was unique, Dr. Stein’s life ended in a way all too familiar for families with a loved one in a care home.

“I’ve learned from this experience it can happen anywhere to any person,” Stein said. “My dad had a private room. He had amazing staff and it still happened to him.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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