A long-term care home in St. Catharines, where three residents with COVID-19 died, was repeatedly inspected by public health officials for four months, but still does not comply with control measures infections, learned The Standard.
Since April, the Niagara Public Health Service has inspected the Garden City Manor long-term care home 14 times and, in each case, has found that the home has not fully followed COVID-19 prevention protocols.
“I think what you see is the systemic issues that have caused problems in Niagara’s long-term care homes that are at stake here,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara’s acting medical officer of health. “We still find problems in our inspections. “
At least 10 people, including staff and residents, have been ill with the potentially deadly virus. At least three of these residents have died in the past three days.
Hirji said that, like many private homes, Garden City Manor has a relatively small operating budget and often has only what he called a “skeleton staff” on duty.
“So getting them to do this job in terms of infection control is in addition to all they already have to do,” said Hirji, who said that more tests were being done at home to locate others possible cases.
A spokesperson for Garden City Manor’s parent company Revera Living could not be reached for comment on Monday.
“It’s worrying,” said Hirji. “For the moment, it is certainly more worrying than the other epidemics that we are currently facing.”
The Tabor Manor long-term care home and the Linhaven Nursing Home, both in St. Catharines, are also facing outbreaks of COVID-19.
The Tabor Manor epidemic was declared on July 7, while in Linhaven, the first outbreak in the Niagara region with an outbreak of COVID-19, it occurred on July 11.
In almost all known cases in a retirement or long-term care home, the virus has entered an establishment through staff, often nurses or personal support workers who work in multiple homes.
Hirji said that in the case of Linhaven, it is not known how the virus entered.
Although epidemics of COVID-19 in publicly funded homes are not unknown, they have occurred with less frequency than in partially private facilities, said Hirji, due to larger budgets and lower staff turnover.
So far, only three Linhaven staff have tested positive for the new coronavirus. Hirji said routine staff testing has uncovered the cases, and large-scale testing of staff and residents is underway.
To date, more than half of the 779 cases of COVID-19 in Niagara have been linked to outbreaks, most of which occurred in long-term care homes and retirement homes.
While most involved only a handful of cases and were declared closed in about two weeks, some persisted longer than that. Three in particular – Lundy Manor in Niagara Falls, as well as Seasons and Royal Rose in Welland – were the epicenter of the pandemic in Niagara for most of the spring.
Of the at least 64 Niagara residents who have died to date, 45 were residents of these three homes.
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Lundy Manor, where 18 people died, faces a $ 20-million class action by residents’ families.
During this period, public health officials had to train and then retrain staff on the proper cleaning and infection control measures. Often after a training session, said Hirji, they found that staff would stop following infection control measures and that additional training was needed.
According to public health data, there are currently 24 active COVID-19 cases in Niagara, and two of them are being treated at the St. Catharines hospital.