Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener's Forest Heights among 19 'red' list care homes in Ontario

Forest Heights Revera in Kitchener is considered a "red" long-term care home by the provincial ministry of long-term care. The home has seen 50 deaths and 174 cases among residents.

Outbreak 'coming under control but we can’t let up in terms of the vigilance,' Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang says

Two medical transportation vehicles sit outside Forest Heights in Kitchener on April 28. The home is classified by the province as being 'red' due to the scope of its COVID-19 outbreak. Fifty people who lived at the home have died from the virus. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Kitchener's Forest Heights Revera is among 19 long-term care homes in the province considered to be a "red."

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.

Waterloo region's acting medical officer of health, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, said Forest Heights is the only home in the region on the red list because of the scope of the outbreak.

Since April 1, the home has seen 174 positive cases in residents, 68 cases in staff members and 50 deaths. Three of the positive cases were new this week.

"This is a very, very large outbreak," Wang said Friday at a media briefing. "We've seen the outbreak over time come under better control and I think you've seen that with the numbers as well."

She said the outbreak is "coming under control but we can't let up in terms of the vigilance."

There were provincial inspectors at Forest Heights on Thursday with public health officials.

"We've conducted site visits before and we're continuing that," Wang said.

On Thursday the province announced it would be conducting more unannounced inspections, particularly at homes considered to be red. Wang said she didn't know more about those inspections as they'll be conducted by ministry inspectors.

'Serious concerns'

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Long-Term Care noted an inspection of the home during the week of May 22 "identified serious concerns regarding co-horting" of people living there.

The home has moved some of the people living at Forest Heights into area hospitals to help keep more space between residents.

"Residents moved to local hospitals will remain there until the home's management of the outbreak is stabilized. The ministry is continuing on-site inspections in relation to complaints surrounding resident care and [infection prevention and control] practices," the email to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo said.

"We continue to monitor Forest Heights' needs constantly," the ministry said.

Along with inspections, there is a ministry point person who is in regular contact with the home's management. 

"We are working actively to support Forest Height's needs related to staff capacity, outbreak status, personal protective equipment supply, and other critical needs, and to prevent and contain further infection," the ministry said.

The province's emergency order doesn't allow it to take over a home, but it does allow it to put in place a temporary manager, which can be an individual, hospital or corporation.

"All options are on the table as this serious situation evolves," the ministry said.

'Yellow' home in region

There is also one home in Waterloo region considered to be "yellow," Trinity Village Care Centre in Kitchener. Provincially there are 59 "yellow" homes.

Trinity Village has seen 49 cases in residents, 47 cases in workers and 18 deaths.

Merrilee Fullerton, the minister of long-term care, said during a media briefing with Premier Doug Ford on Thursday that she would not release the full list of red and yellow homes because of the "dynamic nature" of the situation. 

The trend, she added, is that the homes "are all improving."

"That's why we have to keep monitoring every day," Fullerton added.

The province has sent the Canadian Armed Forces into five homes.

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