Nesathurai noted that many long-term care residents have other health conditions that add to the recovery challenge. “Ultimately, COVID-19 is a difficult disease to have if you are in your eighth or ninth decade of life, especially if you have other medical conditions,” he said.
Executive Director Lisa Roth said Anson Place was working with the health unit, the provincial ministry of health, and nursing home and long-term care regulators to manage the epidemic.
All residents and staff have now been tested and each resident is confined to their room, including meals. Residents are checked twice a day for COVID-19 symptoms by staff wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We have had and continue to have the appropriate PPE supplies required,” said Roth.
Employees are also checked twice a day and wear their work clothes at home.
“The people who currently work at Anson Place only work at Anson Place,” said Nesathurai. “They don’t do any other activity unless they buy gas to fill up. “
Roth said more nurses and cleaning staff have been recruited and the facility has stepped up its cleaning and sanitation efforts.
If a staff member who previously tested positive for COVID-19 subsequently undergoes two separate negative tests, the health unit indicates that they are authorized to return to work.
Although the epidemic at Anson Place accounts for the vast majority of positive COVID-19 cases in Haldimand-Norfolk, Nesathurai said that ventilators – which mechanically inflate weakened lungs and provide additional oxygen – have not been used to treat residents. Instead, an on-site doctor makes additional arrangements for oxygen and medication for COVID-19 patients.
“The ventilators would not be provided in a place like Anson Place,” he said, explaining that potentially life-saving devices are generally reserved for hospital patients.
The first Anson Place resident to die from COVID-19 died in a hospital in Hagersville on March 26, but Nesathurai said the following residents died in the care center.
“Because it is their preference,” he said. “Many elderly people at the end of life choose not to receive extraordinary treatment.”
He said if a patient wanted “more aggressive or firm measures” he could be taken to hospital, but if not, the health unit recommends staying there and being treated at home. “Transferring someone to spend their last hours in an emergency room, in my opinion, is not compassionate,” said Nesathurai. “It also offers the possibility of distributing COVID-19 to the emergency department. It’s always balance. “
Community members affixed signs to the fence at Anson Place with messages of encouragement to the nurses and other staff. Roth said such gestures did not go unnoticed.
“I can’t say it enough, but I and the Anson Place team are deeply grateful for all the support and kind words we have received from the families of the residents and the community at large,” said she said.
“Your listening has kept us strong as we work together to get through this difficult time.”
The reporting by J.P. Antonacci is funded by the Canadian government as part of its local journalism initiative. The funding allows him to bring stories from the Haldimand and Norfolk regions.