Hamilton

3 more Hamilton nursing homes have COVID-19 outbreaks

Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence has one infected staff member, King Berry Seniors Residence has two infected residents and Clarion Nursing Home in Stoney Creek has an infected staff member. The Cardinal Retirement Residence also reported one new death from the novel coronavirus.

6 of the city's 7 outbreaks are in long-term care facilities

Tight restrictions around access to nursing homes have forced visitors to attempt window visits like the one at the Grass Home nursing home in New Brunswick — but the restrictions aren't stopping COVID-19 from infecting the elderly. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

COVID-19 has more long-term care homes in Hamilton reeling, with the city seeing three new outbreaks in local nursing homes on Monday.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health, said Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence has one infected staff member, King Berry Seniors Residence has two infected residents and Clarion Nursing Home has an infected staff member.

The Cardinal Retirement Residence also reported one new death from the novel coronavirus. A 94-year-old woman is the nursing home's third death, along with two men, 71 and 88, who died over the weekend.

Richardson said the city is doing all it can to protect the elderly, as well as others who can't fight off the virus, including having already implemented restrictions that prevent most patients from seeing guests at nursing homes.

"But people do still come and go from those in terms of the staff who are there or essential visitors who are coming in to see very sick relatives ... so there is some movement in and out in terms of people," Richardson said.

"And of course, we do know there is community spread that is occurring out there that any of those people could have contact with while they are outside the institution." 

The city now has seven outbreaks, which include three other long-term care facilities:

  • Heritage Green Nursing Home, with 11 infected residents, three infected staff and three deaths.
  • Cardinal Retirement Residence, with 22 infected residents, 13 infected staff and three deaths.
  • Wentworth Lodge, with one infected staff member.

Richardson pointed to calls last week for all staff in nursing homes to wear face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus among the elderly. She said local nursing homes have been cooperating.

"It is a very challenging time for some of them and so collectively, as a community, sometimes we need to wrap around and ask for PPE (personal protective equipment)," she said.

"Places that normally don't do high levels of care are now having  to deal with a very different situation where they're having to wear PPE all the time … we're helping them to problem solve through those issues and get staffing."

A discarded shoe cover sits outside of Heritage Green Nursing Home in Stoney Creek, the site of a COVID-19 outbreak. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The city is looking for more PPE but Paul Johnson, director of Hamilton's emergency operations centre, said supplies aren't running dangerously low at the moment.

"We are, today, re-evaluating the time that it will take in terms of when it will get to critical shortages because of long-term care," Johnson said.

"We continue to be stable, but it's a nervousness factor every day because I would like to have a lot more in stock than we do."

Hamilton not seeing a surge

The city of Hamilton reported 24 new confirmed infections linked to COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total to 256 coronavirus cases. The virus has killed nine people, but 114 have recovered.

Hamilton Public Health Services is also opening up the testing criteria to include symptomatic people from high-risk populations, which would include health-care workers, first responders, children attending daycare and others.

Planning is also underway for the next phase of testing which will include drive-thru testing. 

"While cases are continuing to climb, we aren't seeing a surge in cases that might have happened if we weren't [practising physical distancing]," Richardson said.

Johnson said residents in Hamilton are doing a better job of avoiding city parks and trails.

The City of Hamilton has seen a dramatic drop in people visiting parks after weeks of urging residents to practise physical distancing. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

"We have counters on our stairs and we can actually tell whether people are sneaking around the signs … and we are down to next to zero," he said.

"Before we put those signs up, in the case of the Chedoke stairs, there were 4,000 trips a day happening."

Still, Johnson said Albion Falls and Gage Park continue to be problem areas.

Homeless population get more shelter

Hamilton's homeless population has seen more support with the FirstOntario Centre and Good Shepherd's McGinty House offering space for them.

Johnson said Hamilton is looking to get social service funding out soon.

The city's homeless population has more places to stay while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

His goal is to get money in people's pockets within a week of applying for financial support.

"We'll try to make those approvals as soon as possible and I think that's great because we know the services on the ground need to get going fast," Johnson said.

COVID-19 cases in surrounding areas

Halton has 316 new confirmed and 40 probable cases of COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon, including 57 confirmed and 11 probable cases in Burlington. An outbreak was declared at Park Avenue Manor on April 3.

The Niagara region has 250 cases and 10 deaths. One in three COVID-19 cases in the region are in long-term care facilities.

Brant/Brantford reported 64 cases on Monday, while Haldimand-Norfolk has 144 cases and 13 deaths. 

All of Haldimand-Norfolk's reported deaths are at Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

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