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Situation 'improving substantially' at long-term care homes – BarrieToday

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Simcoe-Muskoka’s medical officer of health hopes the region and the province are turning a corner when it comes to long-term care residents becoming infected with the deadly coronavirus. 

Since Friday, May 15, there were no additional positive found in long-term care residents in the region. 

Friday also marked the final day of universal testing in the province, and the health unit reports there were more than 7,000 tests completed on residents and staff in long-term care homes in the region as well as at five emergency child-care centres. 

While not all the results have come back from that universal testing, Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said things look positive both in the region and in the province. 

“I touch wood,” he said. “Things improve because of actions taken … it appears things are improving quite substantially.” 

Through the universal testing mandated by the province, the health unit discovered three positive COVID-19 results in residents at Collingwood Nursing Home. All three of the women were asymptomatic when the positive results were reported.

Gardner said one woman is now showing signs of respiratory illness. 

That was the first time the health unit discovered an outbreak where all those with COVID-19 were not yet showing symptoms of the coronavirus. 

However, Friday marked the end of universal testing in the region. 

Though there was talk of further testing once the long-term care facilities were complete, Gardner said the health unit will not be continuing with universal testing of residents in retirement homes or other congregate settings, such as group homes. 

“If the province directs us, we certainly will,” said Gardner.

In the meantime, the health unit is closely monitoring congregate living facilities. If anyone develops symptoms they are tested for COVID-19, and if any cases come back positive, every resident and staff member at the facility will be tested. 

As health experts predict COVID-19 will be here for the foreseeable future, Gardner said there’s time now to consider longer-term approaches to control measures such as testing. 

“We have to think about how do we continue to operate testing in the future,” said Gardner. “Will it be through assessment centres or through primary care physicians?

“I’m sure our approach is going to change over time, because things don’t stay the same forever. We put together those assessment centres in a rush … now is the time to revise what we do to make it optimal,” he said. 

Gardner said he’s seen a decrease in the demand for testing on a provincial level. And with the universal testing for long-term care facilities now passed, there will not be the same demand for test results unless the province mandates further universal testing in other sectors or in other congregate settings.

“My understanding … is there hasn’t been a big uptake from the population,” he said. “You’ve got a falling incidence of infection right now. Perhaps the demand in part is related to a reduction in cases themselves.” 

Though the demand might be lower right now, Gardner said it’s important to maintain a strong capacity for testing. If cases in Ontario start to increase again as more businesses and sectors of the economy open up, the ability to process tests will be necessary. 

He also noted the world, in particular Ontario, would have to deal with this coronavirus until a vaccine is developed and gets widespread distribution. 

“Certainly we would want there to be capacity … if that should happen,” said Gardner. “We have to make sure people can get tested … we have to have the surveillance to know how well we’re controlling the pandemic.”

In the Simcoe-Muskoka region, there have been 432 cases of COVID-19 confirmed through lab testing. Of those, 303 people have recovered, eight people are in hospital, and 34 people have died.

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COVID-19 roundup: new case reported in Owen Sound Friday – Owen Sound Sun Times

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This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.

Photo supplied

One new case of COVID-19 was reported in the region Friday according to the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s daily situation report.

The most recent case was reported in Owen Sound, according to the health unit’s data.

Eighty-eight of the region’s 98 total cases have recovered. None of the active cases are currently hospitalized, and no deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 locally.

Twenty-four cases of the disease have been reported in healthcare workers. No local long-term care or retirement homes are currently under a declared COVID-19 outbreak.

* * *

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is recommending people use virtual forms of participation such as signing petitions, donating to groups, and learning more about racism and how to address it as anti-racism protests spread throughout the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Racism is a public health issue. Racism, in its many forms, profoundly impacts the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities,” said a Grey Bruce Health Unit news release. “We recognize that, at this time, people may want to gather to march and express themselves with respect to supporting efforts to end racism.”

The release did list several considerations for people who must participate in any local rallies including spreading out to maintain proper physical distancing, staying outside, wearing a face covering, and bringing hand sanitizer.

The health unit is asking older adults, the immunocompromised, and those living with vulnerable people who are more susceptible to serious complications should they contract COVID-19, to reconsider the need to be present in a large crowd.

“The Grey Bruce Health Unit has the responsibility to identify risk associated with any public health threat, including COVID-19. We remind people that gatherings increase the risk of transmission of disease,” the release said.

* * *

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is encouraging all municipalities to adopt bylaws restricting the use of beach and waterfront spaces after rescinding the beach closure order enacted on May 14.

However, municipalities in Grey-Bruce can now open beaches fully, allow only walk-through access, or maintain a full closure of the beach.

In a bulletin on their website the health unit recommends people check with their local municipality to confirm the status of the beach, waterfront, and river access points before planning to use them.

Even if some public waterfront spaces do reopen, amenities such as public washrooms, change rooms, and water refill stations may still be closed, a health unit media release explained. Therefore, the health unit is recommending beachgoers bring their own water jug with a spigot, soap and paper towels to wash their hands – or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Public health is recommending people wear a non-medical face mask or face covering in places where proper physical distancing measures cannot be controlled. They’re also recommending people bring reusable water bottles and individual containers for food to prevent sharing, and their own garbage bags.

Public health is asking residents to be patient with visitors and tourists who do not know the local guidance information and to politely inform them what is allowed at local beaches, and the proper guidelines to follow.

“We all want to have an enjoyable summer on our beautiful beaches in the safest and most sustainable way possible. We’re in this together,” the bulletin reads.

* * *

Community lab collections at South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s Chesley and Durham sites will resume on Monday.

Appointments will be required to ensure proper physical distancing for patient safety. Patients can begin booking appointments for June 15 and beyond by calling Patient Registration for Chesley (519-363-2340) or Durham (519-369-2340) between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

People are asked to have a health card and lab requisition ready when calling. A high volume of calls is expected and some waiting may be necessary, according to an SBGHC media release.

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Long-term care company cuts ties with executive after comments made during meeting – OttawaMatters.com

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A long-term care provider’s decision to cut ties with an executive who made disparaging remarks about the relatives of residents struck by the COVID-19 pandemic falls short of the mark, family members said Friday as they continued to push for greater accountability.

They said Sienna Senior Living’s decision to part ways with former executive vice-president of operations Joanne Dykeman does little to address their concerns about the care their relatives are receiving. Dykeman’s comments, they added, raise questions about the company’s overall commitment to residents and their families.

Sienna announced Dykeman’s departure a day after she was overheard mocking family members of seniors living at a home in Woodbridge, Ont., which has been grappling with a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

Immediately following an online video conference to discuss the situation at Woodbridge Vista Care Community, attendees reported hearing Dykeman refer to them as litigious and blood-sucking when she thought the call had been disconnected.

Sienna declined to verify the substance of Dykeman’s comments, but said they “fell far short of our expectations” and apologized to members of the Woodbridge Vista community.

For Mike di Donato, whose 92-year-old grandmother was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 at the home, the company’s actions weren’t good enough.

“There’s a culture problem there,” the 43-year-old said in a telephone interview. “There needs to be change.”

Di Donato said his grandmother moved to the facility last fall and received excellent care for the first several months of her residency.

He said his family did not become truly concerned until early May when the first positive cases were identified at the facility.

Di Donato said his grandmother tested positive for the virus on May 17, but he did not receive an update from Woodbridge Vista’s resident doctor until more than a week later.

That call, he said, came hours after the Ontario government released a damning military report about horrific conditions in five long-term care homes where soldiers had been deployed to provide support, including another facility owned by Sienna. The report detailed a litany of disturbing findings, including improper hygiene practices and inadequate efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Di Donato said he learned last weekend his grandmother was one of 18 Woodbridge Vista residents sent to hospital with the virus. In the days since, he said her condition has deteriorated and his family was forced to say what they fear will be their final goodbyes via video.

Dykeman’s comments, he said, came Wednesday night during a Zoom call with dozens of concerned relatives.

He described her conduct during the meeting as “callous,” saying she did not seem truly engaged with the family’s concerns and declined to answer specific questions about the ongoing outbreak.

Once the call had officially concluded, he said, he and several attendees overheard her remarks. Di Donato and others present reported hearing Dykeman refer to relatives as “blood-sucking class-action lawsuit people” and mock concerns expressed by some at the meeting.

Dykeman, who did not respond to request for comment, no longer worked for Sienna as of Thursday afternoon.

That same day, the Ontario government said management of Woodbridge Vista was being reassigned to William Osler Health System, a nearby hospital where patients were already receiving treatment. Data from the local public health authority indicated more than 20 residents had died from the virus, while more than 100 had fallen ill. More than 40 staff members were also infected.

“Despite receiving hospital support, Woodbridge Vista Care Community has been unable to contain the spread of COVID-19,” read a statement from the Ministry of Long-Term Care. “These steps will enable a rigorous management structure to help contain the spread of the disease and assist in returning their home to normal operations.”

Sienna said it has developed a six-point plan to protect residents, noting Dykeman’s remarks were not consistent with those efforts.  

“Our residents and their loved ones are deserving of our respect at all times and as a company we will ensure this respect guides our every action,” Sienna said, adding its “renewal” efforts include improving communication with families.

Di Donato said he questions Sienna’s commitment to change, but hopes the Dykeman controversy will force the company’s hand. 

“If she had disconnected properly from that Zoom call, would we be talking today? Probably not,” he said.

“They would have just kept doing what they’re doing.”

Sienna Living also owns Red Oak Retirement Homes located in Kanata.

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Long-term care company fires executive after comments made during meeting – Toronto Sun

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VAUGHAN, Ont. — An executive at a Canadian long-term care company has been fired after the organization said she made inappropriate comments during a town hall with family members.

Sienna Senior Living is apologizing to families for the comments made by Joanne Dykeman, the company’s former executive vice-president.

The company held a Zoom meeting on Wednesday for the family members of residents at the Woodbridge Vista Community Care near Toronto, which is currently facing an outbreak of COVID-19.

The provincial government recently appointed the local health system to control the home, and last weekend 18 residents were sent to hospital.

Sienna Senior Living says it is working on a plan to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It says the plan includes improving communication with the family members of residents.

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