By: Mike Anderson
Four residents at the River Glen Haven Nursing Home in Sutton have tested positive for COVID-19, according to York Region Public Health.
The positive results were reported after all staff and residents were tested by RGH nursing staff.
This follows a provincial directive issued by Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, on April 21, which ordered COVID-19 testing in every nursing home across the province, including residents and staff not showing any symptoms.
So far, according to Karen Ryan, River Glen Haven’s Administrator, the infections have been contained to the second floor of the 119-bed facility, which is currently providing care to 114 residents.
However, Ms. Ryan said that the residents on the second floor are known to wander, which increases the risk of spreading the virus and underlines the challenges long-term care homes, like RGH, face in trying to contain outbreaks of COVID-19.
While an infected resident is required to wear a mask, she said “at this time we can only isolate to a certain degree because all the residents on second floor are wanderers.”
“We are trying to redirect residents and keep them in the room as much as we can, but, short of restraints, we can only do so much in that regard.”
According to York Region Public Health, while long-term care homes should ensure infected residents self-isolate and maintain a 2-meter distance from other residents; in reality, that is often challenging in a group setting.
Long-term care homes have also been instructed by the Ontario Ministry of Health to cohort residents to prevent the spread of the disease during an outbreak; infected residents should be isolated, in designated floors or wards, and separated from non-infected residents.
Although, the infected residents, so far, are exhibiting mild symptoms, Ms Ryan said that if a resident develops more severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, RGH will contact family members and public health for guidance.
The RGH medical team would also be required to make “a judgement call,” as to whether it was in the best interests of the resident to be hospitalized, as some residents are under a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order, she added.
According to Ms. Ryan, RGH has enough PPE on hand to deal with the outbreak, which has been a concern for other long-term care facilities in York Region.
“We have enough supply to get us through 14 days, if the outbreak goes beyond that we can get supplies from the Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and our supplier, she said. “That hasn’t dried up, we’ve been getting supplies in.”
Ms Ryan also said that RGH began infection control measures in early March, including temperature checks, increasing cleaning and disinfection, frequent hand sanitization, and requiring residents and staff to remain on their floor.
“All our units are completely isolated from one another. Our staff are isolated from one another. If you work on the second floor, you stay on the second floor. If you work on first, that’s where you stay. You don’t go from floor to floor. And we’ve been doing that since the beginning of March.”
Although Ms. Ryan believes RGH adopted the necessary protocols to protect the home from infection, unfortunately, in the end, it wasn’t enough.
“My staff have gone over and above what would be expected of them on a daily basis,” she said. “It was very disappointing when we did find out that we did have a positive case, but we also knew it was going to come in sooner or later. We’ve just been fortunate enough to keep it at for as long as we have.”
“Staff are doing everything that they can to keep residents and themselves safe. I’m very proud of what the staff has accomplished and will continue to do for the residents, for themselves, for their families.”
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