Brampton’s ravaged Grace Manor long-term care home getting desperately needed help from the military; Peel confirms COVID-19 death in homeless shelter
The virus that’s plagued the planet continues to attack the most vulnerable among us.
In Brampton, long-term care home Grace Manor, where two residents have already died from COVID-19, another 49 have tested positive and 21 staff have been infected, the Canadian Armed Forces is now stepping in to help with the crisis.
It’s one of five facilities across the province getting emergency support from the Canadian military, the Ontario government announced Friday morning.
Premier Doug Ford confirmed that CAF personnel are setting up in Etobicoke’s Eatonville facility, Orchard Villa in Pickering, Hawthorne Place in North York, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough and Brampton’s Grace Manor.
The Region of Peel also confirmed with The Pointer Friday that, as of April 23, 32 people in the Region’s shelter system were being isolated with three positive test results “in the homeless population” and one death.
The Region said two others are in a “recovery program” and one individual was removed to the family. The Region did not provide The Pointer with details of where the death occurred, which shelter the individual was staying at or where the other infected individuals are staying.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Peel as of April 24
Long-term care homes and retirement homes have been the hardest hit settings in Peel Region and across the province. As of April 24, 385 residents Peel homes have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 27 deaths in these homes, which represent over one third of the 70 COVID-19 related deaths in the Region.
At Grace Manor, operated by Holland Christian Homes, 49 residents and 21 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19, as of April 22. Two residents already lost their lives to the virus. Last week, the company released a message asking families to be prepared for the worst and advised to have funeral arrangements put in place. The organization also warned calls from family members checking in on their loved ones will likely go unanswered.
“All staff will be on the floor working, with no one staff sitting in the nursing station to answer telephone calls and messages left on the voice mail will be checked less frequently. We apologize in advance if your calls are not returned in a timely manner, but we will need to prioritize these based on the urgency of the call. It would be very much appreciated if families could restrict phone calls to the nursing stations to only those calls which are deemed critical at this time,” a notice on the company’s website states.
While only five Ontario long-term care homes are receiving military assistance at this time, the number could increase, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, said Friday. “We’ve been monitoring very carefully the status of all our homes and looking at who is in greatest need. The staffing appears to be the main area of severe concern right now and that's a major part of how we determined to go with these five homes.”
Ford asked the federal government to deploy assistance from the Canadian military to the five long-term care homes this week as cases in such congregated settings continued to soar, an ask he’s renewing, saying Friday the homes are the only thing on his mind. “Prime Minister, if you’re listening I need your help on long term facilities,” Ford said during his daily press conference.
It has also been reported that his mother-in-law has tested positive for the virus.
Cases in these homes are linked to a number of reasons. Long-term care homes often employ low-wage workers with minimal qualifications who often work in multiple facilities. A directive from the province earlier this month put restrictions on the movement of staff between multiple facilities, to stop the possible transmission from place to place. Older facilities also often see several residents sharing one room.
“Our top priority is ensuring the staff at these long-term care homes can focus on providing care and have the resources they need to combat the spread of this virus,” a statement from the premier’s office said.
The outbreaks in these homes come as the larger trend of cases in Ontario are beginning to flatten.
But inside many long-term care facilities, families are desperately trying to get news about loved ones as the situation worsens in many homes.
There have been 131 outbreaks reported in long-term care and retirement homes across Ontario, and 573 confirmed deaths, while 2,287 residents and 1,089 employees have tested positive.
At Grace Manor in Brampton, families are receiving updates from the company, but the news is increasingly dire.
“At this time, if a resident is at the end of life (last days), only 1 family member per day may visit for a maximum of 5 hours for a private room and 4 hours in a semi-private room,” an updated statement on the company website reads.
“The determination of end of life is made by the physician. It is heartbreaking for us as an organization to have these types of restrictions in place, however it is to limit the spread of the virus.”
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