Worker at Fred Douglas Lodge personal care home tests positive for COVID-19

Fred Douglas Lodge personal care home in Winnipeg says an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, but also says staff and residents are not at risk of exposure.

Management says ‘no risk of exposure’ to staff or residents

Managment at Fred Douglas Lodge says residents and staff at the personal care home are not at risk, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. (CBC)

An employee at Fred Douglas Lodge in Winnipeg has tested positive for COVID-19, but the personal care home says staff and residents are not at risk of exposure.

Management said it received confirmation of the staff member's positive test result on Thursday, April 16.

"The staff member last worked on April 8 and is not one who provides direct resident care," Fred Douglas Society CEO Roslyn Garofalo wrote in a letter to families Thursday. "The employee is currently at home in self-isolation."

Garofalo said the care home is working closely with public health and occupational health officials, and is following provincial guidelines on infection control.

"We appreciate this is incredibly unsettling news for our residents and their loved ones," Garofalo wrote. 

"I do want to share with you that based on the period of communicability of the employee I am able to report that there is no risk of exposure to either our residents or employees," the letter said

Contact tracing underway

Information about the positive test was also shared in an April 17 memo to all staff from Garofalo, a copy of which was given to CBC News. 

"We are doing contact tracing to identify who this staff person may have come into contact with," the staff memo said.

"Presently we have no residents displaying any related symptoms. As a precaution we are isolating all units and will be monitoring the residents," the memo said. 

It asks all staff who have contact with residents to wear the required personal protective equipment and follow infection prevention protocol.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing about 115 workers at Fred Douglas Lodge, said it has been told the employee affected is a CUPE member, but said the union is not yet aware what the worker's job title is.

"This highlights the need for PPE (personal protective equipment) in the long term care facilities for all staff, not just direct service staff such as health care aides," said Shannon McAteer, health care co-ordinator for CUPE Manitoba. 

"Not just the promise it will be provided. It needs to be provided," McAteer said in a statement to CBC News. 

In addition to the requirement for staff to wear personal protective equipment, the letter to families outlines other measures being taken "out of an abundance of caution."

It says visitor restrictions remain in place and employee movement between units "continues to be minimized."

"All residents will continue to be monitored closely," it says, and enhanced cleaning procedures will continue for a list of high-touch surfaces such as handrails, door handles and light switches.