COVID-19 pummels Anson Place, with 19 deaths and 73 confirmed cases

The COVID-19 crisis at Hagersville's Anson Place Care Centre has worsened, with 19 deaths and 73 residents testing positive for the virus.

'COVID-19 is a tough illness to have in your eighth or ninth decade of life'

Nineteen residents have died and 73 have tested positive for COVID-19 at Anson Place. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The COVID-19 crisis at Hagersville's Anson Place Care Centre has worsened, with 19 deaths and 73 of the home's 101 residents testing positive for the virus.

The new deaths mean six more residents have died since the 13 deaths reported as of Sunday.

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit medical officer of health, says 31 staff also have COVID-19. The health unit has tested everyone there, he says, and most were exposed to the virus about two weeks ago.

As for why Anson Place has so many cases, Nesathurai says long-term care facilities are just particularly vulnerable to the virus. 

Elderly residents "are more likely to get infected, become symptomatic and succumb," he said Tuesday. "COVID-19 is a tough illness to have in your eighth or ninth decade of life."

Long-term care homes across the province have been grappling the pandemic, but Anson Place is among the hardest hit. 

The home has been working with the health unit and the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care to try to stop the spread, says executive director Lisa Roth. Residents are isolated, visitors are banned and infected staff are quarantined at home. Residents are served meals in their units, and Anson Place has also ramped up cleaning. 

The remaining staff are only travelling between work and home, Nesathurai says, and stop only to put gas in their vehicles.

Anson Place is a long-term care and retirement home. Retirement home residents live in private units, he says. Many of the long-term care residents live in ward rooms, which means beds are surrounded by privacy curtains, similar to a hospital. 

Roth said Tuesday that 16 of the deaths were on the long-term care side, and three were in the retirement residence. 

"The families have been made aware," she said of the recent deaths, "and the loss is a challenge for all of us here to deal with. Our friends, our care team and our community."

The home has scrambled to find outside workers to make up the staff shortage, and those workers are wearing personal protective equipment at all times. Some of the fill-in staff are paramedic students.

Andrea Horwath, Hamilton Centre NDP MP and Official Opposition leader, said Tuesday that the province should step in and stop long-term care workers from working at more than one home, which many of them do.

Premier Doug Ford announced just such a measure Tuesday afternoon.

Anson Place workers aren't working elsewhere

Nesathurai says the issue is one that had already been addressed at Anson Place.

"We have strongly recommended that no one work at two places," he said. "The people who work at Anson Place are only working at Anson Place, and that's it."

Roth said this weekend that the community is being supportive.

"I can't say it enough, but myself and the Anson Place team are deeply thankful for all the support and kind words we have received from families of residents and the community as a whole," she wrote.

"Hearing from you has kept us strong as we work together to get through this difficult time." 

Twenty people have died from COVID-19 Haldimand-Norfolk, Nesathurai said. There are 145 confirmed cases, and about 16 have recovered.

Deaths at other homes

Other hard-hit nursing homes include Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon with 29 deaths, Eatonville Care Centre in Toronto with 25 deaths, Seven Oaks in Toronto with 22 and Almonte Country Haven in Lanark County with 16.

Locally, Lundy Manor Retirement Residence in Niagara Falls has seen 10 fatalities. 

In Hamilton, six long-term care homes have outbreaks, including Heritage Green Nursing Home in Stoney Creek and Cardinal Retirement Residence, both of which have seen three deaths. Wentworth Lodge in Dundas, Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence, King Berry Seniors Residence and Clarion Nursing Home also have outbreaks.

Outside of Hamilton, Norview in Simcoe, Shalom Manor in Grimsby, Albright Manor in Lincoln, Telfer Retirement Home in Paris, St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre in Brantford, and Park Avenue Manor in Burlington have outbreaks, as do Royal Rose Place, Rapelje Lodge and Seasons Welland in Welland.

The province declares an outbreak after one resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca