Together, with the facility administrators, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is working to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in a Bobcaygeon long-term care home.
On March 20, the Health Unit announced that three residents of the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon had tested positive for COVID-19. The tests came after the Health Unit declared a respiratory outbreak at the facility on March 18 and tests were done on three symptomatic residents.
“In following our provincial outbreak guidelines, we did not do any additional tests on residents as we already had confirmation the virus was in the home,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit.
Once the initial respiratory outbreak was declared, staff at Pinecrest followed all proper procedures to help contain the spread of the virus. Ill staff did not come to work, arrangements were made to have them tested and they were advised to self-isolate at home; residents were isolated as best they could be in the smaller facility; group activities were stopped; and meals were served to residents on trays rather than in the dining room. Pinecrest had been closed to visitors since March 14, with the exception of compassionate visiting as per Ministry of Health direction. Staff who were asymptomatic wore the proper protective equipment to protect both themselves and the residents from the virus, but given the incubation period of the virus, many staff and residents were probably already infected.
As of the information available on March 26, there have been 14 staff members confirmed as COVID-19 positive, and four who have had negative results. Test results are still expected for 16 staff.
While no additional residents were tested, 35 others did develop symptoms and two of those residents have died – one on Tuesday night and the other on Wednesday.
“This is truly a horrible time for the families and friends of the residents, as well as our staff,” says Mary Carr, Administrator of Pinecrest Nursing Home.
“We have a number of medically fragile and vulnerable people living in our home; our residents are like family to our staff. Our sympathies go out to all of the families and friends of the people we have lost.”
Dr. Noseworthy says the Health Unit has been working to support Pinecrest through this challenging time by working to ensure that they have supplies and support for additional staff to cover the work of those who are home ill or recovering.
“This outbreak of COVID-19 is currently the largest outbreak in the province,” she says, “and really brings home how devastating and deadly this virus can be for older people in our communities. I am asking everyone to do everything they can to stop the spread of this virus – if not to protect yourself but to protect others who need our care.”
These measures include self-isolating and staying home when ill, practising physical distancing, washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes and self-isolating for the mandatory 14 days after returning from travel outside of Canada or being confirmed as having COVID-19. As well, everyone over 70 years of age and individuals who are immunocompromised are advised to self-isolate at home. This means that they should only leave their home or see other people for essential reasons. Where possible, they should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.
Carr says Pinecrest staff are doing everything they can to keep their residents safe, but there could be additional deaths given the fragility of some of the residents.