COVID-19 patient told to self-isolate in Montreal rooming house among vulnerable residents
Residents come from vulnerable backgrounds and some are seniors, says executive director
The executive director of a downtown Montreal rooming house wants public health officials to improve their approach to isolating COVID-19 patients after a resident there tested positive and had no place else to go.
"If we want to win the fight, I think we have to adapt to certain situations like these," said Bruno Ferrari, executive director of Vilavi.
Vilavi is a non-profit organization that runs two rooming houses in Montreal and another in Quebec City, offering programs designed to help vulnerable people regain their autonomy.
Residents have their own rooms with kitchenettes, but they share bathroom facilities.
So when a resident in his 50s was diagnosed with COVID-19 and told to self-isolate at the rooming house, Ferrari said Vilavi's administration worried other residents would catch the disease.
Residents of the downtown house live on low incomes and are at risk of homelessness. Some are elderly and the pandemic has proven particularly deadly for people over 70.
Ferrari thought the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was to isolate the infected resident in a hotel room, following the city's acquisition of hotel space to house vulnerable COVID-19 patients.
The city announced earlier this week that it has also earmarked those hotel rooms to temporarily house people if they find themselves without a place to live after moving day.
However, public health turned Ferrari's suggestion down, he said.
"One case is enough, you know?" Ferrari said. "We don't want to have more, and we think that it's very risky to keep the people in this situation in a rooming house."
Vilavi's administration had no choice but to sort the problem out on its own.
The rooming house gave the resident hygiene products to help get through his quarantine and even installed a toilet in his room, complete with plumbing.
Ferrari said Montreal public health didn't totally abandon the organization. He said the agency did help by delivering masks and coordinating food deliveries, but he wants officials to reconsider their approach to coronavirus cases in rooming houses.
Helping rooming houses contain COVID-19 would prevent more outbreaks, he said.
When contacted by CBC News, a Montreal public health spokesperson said the agency will look into the situation and provide an update Friday.
Based on reporting by CBC's Matt D'Amours