By: Mike Anderson

The Christian Horizons’ group home in Keswick is the third community care facility in Georgina to experience an outbreak of COVID-19, according to York Region Public Health.

Irene Moore, Central District Executive Director for Christian Horizons, confirmed in an interview with the POST that a male staff member tested positive at the group home they operate in Upper Keswick on April 16.

According to Ms. Moore, public health officials classify any community care facility as having an outbreak when a single case is reported.

Ms. Moore said that the male staff member was wearing a mask before developing symptoms, which reduced the risk of spreading the virus, and that, so far, none of the home’s six residents have developed symptoms. However, all six residents will be tested by York Region Public Health this week.

“York Regional Public Health is sending in EMS to be able to perform the tests on-site, which is a wonderful support to us as an organization,” she said.

“It’s a stressful test at best. It’s very invasive. So, for us, it enables us to ensure that those individuals have the support they need to get through the test.”

Ms. Moore said York Region Public Health will also be sourcing additional PPE for the group home to help deal with the outbreak.

“We’re in full PPE mode at this location. So masks, gloves, gowns and they can wear face shields if they want,” she said.

The group home has PPE stock for seven days, and, if necessary, the not-for-profit organization could redeploy stock from its other 24 locations.

However, that is not considered advisable and would leave other group homes vulnerable, according to Ms. Moore, who’s also dealing with another positive case in a group home in Richmond Hill.

So, she’s counting on the additional PPE from York Region Public Health.

“I can’t say enough how York Region Public Health has managed this. They have been very supportive,” she said.

Ms. Moore says that the group home is also doing its best to communicate what’s happening to family members.

“We are very transparent with our families, and so when we get tests, we call them right away. We advise them what’s going on; we advise them what measures we are taking”, she said. “Of course, they’re anxious, but they’re glad about the measures that we are taking.”

Those measures started in mid-March, and included prohibiting visits and closing down day programs. Two weeks ago, they stopped moving staff from location to location. And, then on April 10, staff members began wearing masks after York Region Public Health issued a request to do so.

Fortunately, the infected staff member’s first shift was on April 12, so he was wearing a mask before he became symptomatic, according to Ms. Moore.

While everyone anxiously waits for the results of the resident’s tests, Ms. Moore is confident that the home is prepared for the worst.

“We will continue monitoring very intensely for signs and symptoms,” she said.

“Our protocol is four times in 24 hours for symptomology checks, and that includes temperature checking. We’ve been taking everybody’s temperature since March 16, staff as well as people who receive our services. We have done active screening every single day. And so we’ve explained all this to families. More information is better than less.”

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