Kitchener-Waterloo

People moved out of Kitchener long-term care home during COVID-19 outbreak start returning this week

People who were moved out of Forest Heights Revera in Kitchener at the height of a COVID-19 outbreak are being moved back into the home starting this week.

46 people will return to long term care home over next three to four weeks

Two masked residents of Forest Heights, in Kitchener leave the long term care home in ambulances on April 28 when the care home was in the midst of an outbreak of COVID-19. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

People who were moved out of Kitchener's Forest Heights Revera during a COVID-19 outbreak are starting to move back this week.

Officials with the three regional hospitals where residents of the home were taken say a phased approach to returning people to Forest Heights began this week.

Six people returned to the long-term care home as of Wednesday, with eight more people expected to return this week on Thursday and Friday.

In total, 46 people will return to the home over the course of the next three to four weeks, a St. Mary's General Hospital spokesperson says.

Forest Heights saw 178 positive cases in people living at the home, 73 in staff members and 51 deaths. Public health officials noted staff cases may involve people who live outside the region. The outbreak started on April 1 and it was declared over on June 30.

The province appointed St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener to oversee the home at the start of June. The hospital remains in that management role.

"The transfers are going well. Residents are happy to return home and staff are excited to welcome them back," Anne Kelly, manager of communications for St. Mary's, said in an email to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

Questions sent to Revera, the company that runs Forest Heights, were redirected to St. Mary's hospital.

Significant impact on region's numbers

Tuesday marked the first day in months that outbreaks did not make up the majority of positive cases in the region. The region reported 49 per cent of cases were related to outbreaks, while 51 per cent of cases were from either travel, close contact or community spread.

The impact the outbreak at Forest Heights Revera had on the region as a whole is significant.

If Forest Heights is removed from the data, public health says as of Tuesday, the breakdown of how people contracted the virus would be:

  • 38 per cent community transmission.
  • 28 per cent close contact.
  • 30 per cent outbreak related.
  • Five per cent travel related.

In May, Forest Heights was listed among 19 'red' long term care homes in the province. The province ranks long-term care homes as red, yellow and green, green being minimal issues and red being where people are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.

Region of Waterloo Public Health said last week the home is no longer considered red but because St. Mary's continues to provide oversight, the home is considered to be a yellow risk.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of the story under-counted the number of people returning.
    Jul 24, 2020 4:30 PM ET

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