By: Mike Anderson

New Leaf, a not-for-profit organization that operates 13 group homes for close to 100 people with intellectual disabilities in York Region, is reporting outbreaks of COVID-19 in four of its homes, according to York Region Public Health.

The Sycamore House, located in Georgina, had one resident and one staff member test positive on April 14.

The Elms, in East Gwillimbury, and the Maples, in Queensville, are also reporting positive cases; the Elms, one staff member, and the Maples, two staff members.

The largest outbreak is at New Leaf’s Stan Smith’s Farmhouse, with 11 residents and seven staff testing positive.

New Leaf Executive Director Ron McCauley is predicting there will be more cases, as York Region Public Health starts testing its 91 current residents and 200 staff members.

“We’ve been working daily with York Region Public Health unit to make sure that we’ve got the best protocols in place and that our staff and residents are fully protected,” he said.

“But despite that, there are going to be more cases. The reason for that is we’ve taken the position that we want to aggressively test everyone in our agency. Even those who aren’t showing symptoms, because we feel that it’s better to be proactive, to know what we’re dealing with. So, as a result, the more testing you do, the more positive cases that will emerge.”

While the cases may increase, Mr. McCauley is taking comfort in the fact that most of the residents who have tested positive are “either asymptomatic or have minor symptoms.”

Mr. McCauley is also confident that his management team can handle the crisis. He said when the province announced the pandemic, New Leaf immediately put in place a pandemic plan, which included a lockdown of all its residences.

“My management team has been meeting, through teleconference, daily, seven days a week, for the last four weeks, just to make sure that we’re ahead of things, that we have the information at hand to respond appropriately, and so far so good,” he said.

The one pressing issue is New Leaf’s stock of PPE. While Mr. McCauley says they have enough, for now, he’s also actively sourcing more supplies.

“Just yesterday, we received almost 2000 gowns, and I’ve got thousands of masks, but they go so quickly that we’re not relaxing our procurement activities,” he said. “So if people have access to any PPEs, they would be graciously accepted.”



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