Manitoba

Winnipeg care home staffing challenged as 159 COVID-19 positive workers isolating

Two-thirds of all care homes under the co-ordination of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, with 159 positive staff currently out of the rotation and isolating.

Two-thirds of all care homes under Winnipeg health authority purview experiencing outbreaks

As of Tuesday, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said 159 COVID-positive care-home staff were at home isolating. (Richard Lyons/Shutterstock)

Two-thirds of all care homes under the co-ordination of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, with 159 positive staff currently out of the rotation and isolating.

There were active outbreaks at 28 of 39 long-term care facilities under the WRHA's purview and 159 positive staff isolating as of Tuesday, the health authority said in an update on its website

"Staffing is, as a result, very challenged with ongoing monitoring and management," the update says.

"We commend staff for their courage and perseverance, and want to assure them that everything is being done to bring in additional support."

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, announced on Wednesday that two more Manitoba care home outbreaks had been declared, including one at Lions Manor in downtown Winnipeg. There have also been four more deaths tied to care homes, Roussin said.

On top of the crush of positive cases, "many more" long-term care staff are isolating while waiting for results, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said in its Tuesday update. Another 104 staff who previously tested positive have now recovered.

The WRHA is trying to fill its staffing shortages by activating its "hub model," which partners care homes with nearby hospitals to share resources and redeploy hospital staff.

The hub model helped redeploy employees from the Victoria Hospital to work shifts at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home on the weekend. A suite of services, including outpatient clinics and community health programs, are being ramped down to allow staff to work at care homes.

Half of deaths

Outbreaks at 50 care homes have led to the deaths of more than 120 people — almost half of Manitoba's 256 COVID-19 deaths so far — and over 900 positive cases.

The WRHA update comes as similar staffing issues affect hospital staff numbers.

On Monday, Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said the equivalent of about 6,900 eight-hour shifts were lost in the health-care system in the previous two weeks due to COVID-19 positive and isolating staff. Over 550 health-care workers have tested positive during the pandemic.

A Parkview Place worker monitors the front door of the long-term care facility earlier this month. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Outbreaks are automatically declared at long-term care facilities after one positive case emerges in a staff or resident.

Most current care home outbreaks have fewer than five active cases, the WRHA said. Larger outbreaks continue at Golden Links Lodge, Holy Family Home, Simkin Centre, St. Norbert Personal Care Home, Maples Long Term Care Home and Parkview Place.

Deaths have been reported at all six of those facilities, and clinical care leads with the WRHA are now stationed at each one.

Shortages at Maples improving: WRHA

As of Tuesday, 75 deaths had been tied to the outbreaks at the Maples and Parkview homes, accounting for nearly a third of all of Manitoba's 248 deaths. Hundreds of staff and residents at those two care homes have tested positive.

One particularly grim weekend earlier this month saw eight people at Maples die in a 48-hour span. That, and concern over inaccurate reporting of staffing numbers by Revera, the company that runs Maples and Parkview, prompted the WRHA to send an executive to Maples to oversee care.

The WRHA says both those facilities have made "significant progress" and staffing has stabilized lately. Maples had 154 active COVID-19 cases, including staff and residents, as of Tuesday. Parkview had 112. The Red Cross, which sent staff to assist at Maples this month, continues to help out.

In addition to some hospital resources and staff diverted to the hardest-hit care homes, a first wave of 23 graduates from Red River College's uncertified health-care aide micro-credentialing program is expected to be available to help at personal care homes early next month, the WRHA said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, climate, health and more. He recently finished up a stint as a producer for CBC's Quirks & Quarks. He is the Prairie rep for OutCBC. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

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