Kitchener-Waterloo

18 people have died as Chartwell Westmount LTC battles COVID-19 outbreak

Chartwell Westmount has been hit by a significant COVID-19 outbreak. There have been 138 cases between people living and working there and the home says 18 people have died.

'We continue to be diligent in fighting the spread of the virus,' official says

Chartwell Westmount long-term care home in Kitchener declared a COVID-19 outbreak on Dec. 27, 2020. Since then, there have been 138 cases in the home, including people living there and staff, and 18 deaths. (Google Street View)

An ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at Chartwell Westmount long-term care home in Kitchener has claimed the lives of 18 people, the home says. 

The home has seen 138 cases in an outbreak that was declared Dec. 27. Of those cases, 72 are people who live at the facility while 66 are staff members.

The home says 18 people have died. The region's COVID-19 dashboard reported 16 deaths as of Thursday.

The home said it has increased staffing and cleaning in light of the outbreak.

The neighbouring retirement home is also currently in outbreak but has seen fewer cases with six: five in people living at the home and one in a staff member.

Officials at the long-term care home say they have been working with the Ministry of Long-Term Care, Ontario Health/LHIN, Region of Waterloo Public Health and Grand River Hospital, although the hospital has not taken over management of the home like in other outbreaks in the region, including Forest Heights Revera in the spring of 2020 and Cambridge Country Manor in late 2020.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health, says public health and Grand River Hospital are focused on outbreak management and infection prevention and control.

"There is enhanced, regular testing taking place to ensure any additional cases are detected early and appropriate measures are being put in place to reduce the risk of further spread," Wang said in an emailed statement.

A statement from Grand River Hospital echoed Wang's comments, saying all hospitals in the region have been offering support when needed to various homes.

"At this time, we do not have staff in the home but staffing and support have been part of our response. In particular, at this home, our infection prevention and control leadership have spent time in the home providing their advice and expertise, and we also provided assistance to set up a rapid testing process," the hospital's statement said.

"We, as well as other hospitals in the region, have also supported other organizations in the long-term care and retirement home sectors, as well as other congregate settings."

Staffing increased

Sharon Ranalli, vice president of marketing and communications for Chartwell Retirement Residences, said in an emailed statement that they also increased staffing at the home by 50 per cent in the wake of the outbreak.

"In addition to weekly interval testing of staff, Chartwell Westmount LTC started daily Panbio rapid testing for staff on the south tower of the building," Ranalli said.

Also, on Monday, there is infection prevention and control audits being done daily on each floor during three shifts: days, evenings and overnights. Ranalli said those audits have so far come back with a 95 per cent compliance rate.

"We continue to be diligent in fighting the spread of the virus through enhanced measures including active screening, heightened monitoring and surveillance of residents and employees for COVID-19 symptoms," she said.

The home has a stable supply of personal protective equipment, there's been training on how to properly put on and take off the equipment and the home continues "to reinforce the importance of appropriate hand hygiene for staff. We also continue to maintain increased environmental cleaning practices."

'Extraordinary efforts' of staff

Ranalli said the "thoughts and prayers" of Chartwell and people who work and live at the home are with the families and friends of those who have died.

"Although the outbreak was significant, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of many of our residents, we are humbled by the extraordinary efforts of the leaders and staff of Chartwell Westmount LTC and the consistent and comprehensive support of our health partners," she said.

"Together, we have in place systems that we believe will see us to the other side of the outbreak."

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