Prepare for the worst, families of loved ones at Brampton’s Grace Manor told; Peel sees 175 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed over the weekend
Officials from Holland Christian Homes are advising those with family members at Grace Manor to prepare for the worst as the COVID-19 outbreak that has already been fatal threatens to consume the facility.
One of the most widespread outbreaks in Peel is devastating the long-term care home as infections have swept through the facility over the last few days.
Its first case was reported on April 7, by April 13 the virus had spread to a total of 17 residents and five staff. As of April 18, 15 staff had been infected and 42 residents.
The company has also reported the death of one resident inside the home from COVID-19.
The crisis led the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to bring in a team of paramedics to swab test every resident in the facility. In a notice on the company’s website, (read here) it states families will be notified of the results in the coming days.
With the help of a team of paramedics, Grace Manor has tested all of its residents for COVID-19 in an effort to get a handle on the ongoing outbreak.
The letter to families is ominous.
“At this time, we are unfortunately not able to transfer a resident off site to a specific COVID unit on our campus as we do not currently have enough nurses and (Personal Support Workers) PSWs to do this. Space and supplies would also be a challenge due to the large number of positive residents at this time.”
The home has implemented a number of measures to try to contain the virus, including intense cleaning regimes, isolating residents to their rooms, serving meals with single-use materials that can be thrown out after, and ensuring all staff are properly trained and using personal protective equipment (PPE). However, these efforts have failed to prevent what’s turned into a crisis.
“Some challenges that we face are those residents with cognitive impairment that may tend to wander out of their room. This is an example of a resident that may require transfer to another unit to minimize the spread of the virus to residents with negative results,” the letter on the company’s website states.
“A consideration when moving our cognitively impaired residents is that often times a change in environment can spark delirium, which is a sudden acute change in cognition with worsening confusion, fluctuating level of consciousness and possibly triggering worsening responsive behaviours/personal expressions such as increased restlessness and agitation. This is why the team must consider any move very carefully on a case-by-case basis.”
The organization has made the “heartbreaking” decision to limit the number of family members who are allowed inside to visit a loved one who is approaching the end of their life. Visitors will only be allowed if there is enough PPE to accommodate them, the notice states.
The company is asking families to prepare for the worst-case scenario, as new changes by the Ontario’s chief coroner mean that when a person dies from COVID-19 in a long-term care home, they are picked up by the funeral home within three hours of their death.
“We understand that this is a very difficult thing to think about, but at this time we would encourage all families and residents to consider choosing a funeral home and sharing this information with the nurse on your unit. Preparing this ahead of time will decrease the pressure to make this decision at the time of a resident's passing,” the notice advises.
Public health officials confirmed 175 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the region over the weekend, bringing Peel’s total to nearly 1,500 total infections as of Sunday morning.
The region also recorded one additional death from COVID-19 Sunday, with 37 Peel residents, nine of them from long-term care homes, now deceased after contracting the virus.
As of April 18, there were 10,578 confirmed infections in Ontario, marking an increase of 568 cases since Friday. The virus has killed 553 people in the province, and over 5,200 cases are now marked as resolved.
Across the region, the number of COVID-19 cases has continued to increase at approximately 5 percent a day in recent weeks. Sunday’s spike of 102 new cases marks an 8 percent increase over Saturday. While it appears social and physical distancing measures have slowed the spread of the virus among the general population in Peel, many of its institutions, especially long-term care homes, continue to be hit hard, and overall numbers remain troubling.
The 553 residents who have died from the virus across Ontario far exceeds the province’s best-case scenario of 200 deaths by the end of April. And the numbers appear to be projecting toward the worst case scenario of 1,600 deaths by the end of the month, outlined by the province two weeks ago when it released its first modelling data.
According to data from Peel Public Health, 18 institutions, including long-term care facilities, retirement homes and hospitals have declared COVID-19 outbreaks. Three of these outbreaks have been declared in the last three days and include the Bramalea Retirement Residence, the Regency Retirement Residence in Mississauga, and Malton Village.
Prior to these three outbreaks, Peel had already recorded 159 cases of COVID-19 linked to these institutions.
A breakdown of COVID-19 cases in the Region of Peel as of April 19.
Cases have also been confirmed among staff at Brampton’s Ontario Correctional Institute, a detention centre that focuses on treatment for substance abuse and/or those who have committed sex crimes, and at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre. Information about whether any detainees have tested positive is not available.
Brampton Civic Hospital, operated by William Osler, and Credit Valley Hospital, run by the Trillium Health Network have also both declared outbreaks since the start of the pandemic, involving both in-patients and staff. It’s not clear if those outbreaks are over. The Pointer will update the situation when information is available.
Trillium also runs the Mississauga Hospital and currently the whole system is caring for 91 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals, 20 of whom are in critical care. At William Osler, which also operates Etobicoke General along with Civic, there are 58 COVID-19 patients being treated in its hospitals, 22 of whom are in critical care. A total of 104 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from Osler and Trillium hospitals after fighting the virus.
The provincial government has also made a concerted push to find a preventative solution to the virus as Premier Doug Ford announced on Saturday, $20 million in funding for advanced research to combat COVID-19.
With residents in communities across the country itching to get outside as the temperatures warm, developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is absolutely essential for life to return to any type of “normal”, health officials have said.
"We have some of the best and brightest minds anywhere in the world right here in Ontario," Ford said in a news release. "Whether it's developing a vaccine, using 3-D printers to make personal protective equipment or designing better portable ventilators, our brilliant researchers are leading the charge in the fight against COVID-19 and giving our frontline health care workers the tools and resources they need to deliver top-notch care for patients."
A potential problem lies within the virus itself. Some researchers around the world, who are only beginning to understand the make-up and characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name for the novel coronavirus, have said a long-term vaccine might not be feasible, and even an annual one could have difficulty containing the problem, if the virus is capable of mutating rapidly into various strains. It’s possible that COVID-19 could become a common disease like the flu, that also has various strains.
With spring weather brings the planting season for farmers. In an effort to keep the food supply chains moving and ensure store shelves remain stocked, the province has partnered with the federal government to pair workers in the agri-food sector with farmers who need the assistance.
"The women and men who work on farms, in processing plants and throughout the food production chain, are doing an essential service for us during this critical time and we are thankful for their dedication and hard work," said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in a news release.
"There is a strong need for workers on Canadian farms and in food processing businesses right now and our Government is taking concrete actions to find solutions, including through this new initiative, to ensure that Canadians continue to have high-quality food on their grocery store shelves and kitchen tables."
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