No time for rest inside Peel’s care homes as some declare second outbreaks
After months of ongoing testing, protocols and physical distancing to try and eliminate outbreaks of COVID-19, some of Peel’s long-term care homes are starting the cycle all over again.
The hardest hit long-term care homes in the region – Grace Manor and Camilla Community Care Home – have both declared a second outbreak in recent weeks.
Grace Manor in Brampton declared its first outbreak on April 7 and it lasted until June 7. It was so aggressive that after the head of Holland Christian first announced the spread was under control, just two weeks later, by the end of April, it had spread like wildfire.
In total, 55 residents tested positive for the virus, 43 of them have recovered and 12 have died; 31 staff members also tested positive with 29 recovered and one dead.
Long-term care and retirement homes in Ontario have implementing enhanced cleaning and testing protocols to try and prevent COVID-19 from spreading and detect cases early.
The break between the cases didn’t last long as the Peel Regional Public Health Unit announced June 17 that there was a second outbreak after one staff member who was asymptomatic tested positive for the virus.
The home was able to bring the outbreak under control much more quickly and it was declared over June 21 with no residents being infected.
Under the new provincial protocols, residents and staff at all long-term and retirement homes are being tested twice during the month of June, aiding the homes in catching those who do not show signs of COVID-19.
Grace Manor was one of a number of hard hit facilities in the region, but due to the speed at which the initial outbreak spread, it prompted the federal and provincial governments to send in the Canadian Armed Forces to help.
Last month saw a harrowing report by the Canadian military into the state of homes in Ontario. It offered horrific examples of neglect, and suffering residents as many of the people and companies tasked with their care displayed alarmingly irresponsible behaviour.
The report showed examples of neglect and a range of misconduct in five homes across Ontario including Brampton's Grace Manor operated by Holland Christian Homes. According to the report, basic hygienic practices were not being met and personal protective equipment was not being provided.
The capacity challenges, lack of personal support workers, not enough funding, mental health impairment, violent attacks on residents, lack of transparency and hygiene and unhealthy conditions overall were some of the issues highlighted over and over again by the military.
The Canadian military were called to assist in five of Ontario's hardest hit long-term care homes. After weeks helping deal with the COVID-19 outbreaks in these homes, the military published a disturbing report on the conditions and care practices underway inside these facilities.
In Mississauga, Camilla Community Care Home is also grappling with its second outbreak of COVID-19. Currently, two residents and two staff members tested positive for the virus on June 17.
This first outbreak was declared March 30 and lasted until June 7. To date, 183 residents tested positive. The vast majority (116) recovered, but 67 have died. All 48 staff cases have been resolved.
Many of these care homes have been under strict protocols to keep the virus out and protect the residents. Enhanced screening measures upon entering and exiting the building are in place along with requirement for extensive personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn inside and contact tracing should an individual end up contracting the virus.
Burton Manor in Brampton, which declared its first outbreak over back in May, is also dealing with a second outbreak of the virus. Declared on June 13, three staff members have tested positive, but no residents to date. The root of the outbreak is unknown and thought to have come from community spread as all residents have tested negative.
More from The Pointer on COVID-19 and Peel's long-term care crisis:
- Lax regulations have allowed COVID-19 to ravage vulnerable seniors’ residences across Peel Region
- Peel hospital outbreak information inconsistent; long-term care homes quiet on details
- Military whistleblower report details serious neglect at long-term care homes in Ontario, including Brampton
- Military personnel arriving at Brampton care home won’t be able to fix system-wide problems
Inside the home they are taking many precautions, including testing residents twice a day, wearing full PPE, including gowns and face shields. However, they are not discouraging staff members from giving hugs or touching the hands of their residents, to provide emotional support for seniors who have suffered in isolation from their families since March.
Homes that do not have a COVID-19 outbreak can now allow visitors as long as they have had no positive tests in the past two weeks. Premier Doug Ford said he understands how hard the ban on visits has been for families, with his own mother-in-law in a long-term care facility.
A spokesperson from the home said that during these times it’s important for a human connection and as long as staff are completely covered, small acts can go a long way for residents.
The home has seen 46 resident cases, 32 of which have recovered and 14 deaths from the virus. There have been 19 staff cases, all of which have recovered fully.
For many homes the reality of COVID-19 outbreaks and all that comes with it has become a new normal. In a non-COVID-19 world, homes would routinely have flu or other virus outbreaks so many of their protocols are normal, but much more extensive.
A spokesperson from the Village of Sandalwood in Brampton told The Pointer that protocols have been “ramped up” since COVID-19. The home is now dealing with its first outbreak, which was declared on June 15.
Currently two staff members tested positive during routine testing being done this month. All residents and staff will get tested again starting this week.
As of June 24, there have been 622 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents in Peel Region’s long-term care and retirement homes, 429 of them have recovered, 191 residents have died.
Outbreaks and case numbers inside Peel's long-term care and retirement homes as of June 29.
Long-term care homes have accounted for around 62 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ontario during the pandemic.
It was a review that prompted Premier Ford to promise sweeping changes for the sector. But even before the military report, long-term care had been in desperate need of attention, something the global pandemic shone a light on.
In the GTA, the novel coronavirus decimated facilities that were not equipped to deal with the outbreak. While the government looked for ICUs and ventilators, the virus crept into long-term and retirement homes, putting the most vulnerable at risk.
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MLTC) says it is implementing measures across homes to protect the residents and staff at long-term homes across the province.
“We are issuing emergency orders, introducing amended regulations, and announcing $243 million in emergency funding for staffing, supplies, and capacity,” Macey Aramburo, a spokesperson for the ministry, said.
Sienna Senior Living, which manages 37 long-term care homes in Ontario, including Camilla Care Community Centre was named in a $100-million class-action lawsuit last month.
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