New Brunswick

At least 25 residents and 15 workers infected with COVID-19 at 5 N.B. nursing homes

After getting through about a year and a half of the pandemic with no COVID-19 cases, several licensed non-profit nursing homes in New Brunswick are now dealing with outbreaks.

All but a couple of cases are mild thanks to vaccination, says nursing home association

COVID-19 cases are on the increase in a number of New Brunswick nursing homes and special care homes, but operators say residents are fully vaccinated and most are showing mild symptoms. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

After getting through about a year and a half of the pandemic with no COVID-19 cases, several licensed non-profit nursing homes in New Brunswick are now dealing with outbreaks.

"We turn green and all of a sudden we're having the worst outbreaks that we've had since this pandemic started," said Michael Keating, executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes.

It represents 71 licensed nursing homes in the province. 

The largest outbreak is at the Drew Nursing home in Sackville, a 118-bed facility where 17 residents and six staff members have tested positive. 

Just one resident had required hospitalization as of Thursday afternoon, said Keating.

At Victoria Glen Manor in Perth-Andover, one of three infected residents is not doing very well, he said, although that person has not been transferred to hospital.

Michael Keating, executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, says more homes than ever are experiencing outbreaks. (Radio-Canada)

Two staff members at the 61-bed facility tested positive on Monday.

At Grand Falls Manor Inc. - Villa des Chutes, which has 69 beds, five residents have tested positive and two staffers.

At Foyer Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes in Bathurst, a 130-bed facility with 190 employees, four staff members are infected.

At the Campbellton Nursing home, which has 85 beds, two vaccinated workers got notice from public health they'd been exposed to a positive case, said CEO Wayne McWilliams. 

Mass testing was done, as per protocols, and a third vaccinated employee, who was asymptomatic, tested positive.

No one is sick so far, said McWilliams, but visits are banned until at least next week, once the results are back from a third round of testing, which is planned for Monday.

Two other licensed non-profit homes homes are receiving assistance from the provincial rapid outbreak management team, or PROMT. An administrator at Villa Sormany in Robertville, which has 61 beds, declined to comment, and no one at River View Manor in Bath, which has 40 beds, could be reached by publication time. 

Keating said neither of those homes had reported serious cases to him.

"We're taking this very seriously," Keating said. "We've got our fingers crossed and are saying our prayers that this is not going to get worse."

A few other homes recently had workers test positive, said Keating, including Forest Dale in Riverside Albert, Villa du Repos in Moncton and one run by the Salvation Army, but a few weeks have gone by without detecting the virus spreading to anyone else.

In most cases, he said, unvaccinated employees are the ones initially becoming infected. 

But since residents have been vaccinated, most are having only mild symptoms.

Visiting is banned at any home that has had a case. 

A decision has yet to be made about whether double-vaccinated designated caregivers will be allowed in, said Keating.

Cecile Cassista of the N.B. Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights said she's been hearing from some family members who are concerned about visiting restrictions.

Cassista said according to one complainant, a resident of one home was not bathed for 11 days after restrictions were imposed a few weeks ago.

Cecile Cassista of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights says some families are concerned about the level of care nursing home residents are getting during visiting restrictions. (Wayne Chase Photography)

Family members there are doing window visits, she said, and for the most part they are afraid to speak out in fear of reprisal.

Keating said as far as he knows there has been no interruptions in care at any of the nursing homes that belong to his association.

But he admitted they are "in a crisis mode."

"We didn't anticipate when we turned green this would be such an issue," he said.

Talks are ongoing between the unions and the homes, he said, to make provisions for emergency workers to be brought in when needed.

The PROMT team is also helping out at a number of special care homes with cases or exposures - including Brise de l'Oasis Manor and Le Royale in Bathurst and Sugarloaf Manor in Campbellton, which are owned by Lokia.

Lokia CEO Dr. Guy Tremblay told Radio-Canada residents have no symptoms and the environment is calm.

"My residents are all double vaccinated," said Tremblay. "I don't feel my customers are vulnerable at all right now."

The vaccination rate for staff at some Lokia group homes is 93%, while others are at 60%.

Other private special care homes with cases are Residence Alouette in Dieppe, Macleod's Too in Lower Brighton and Foyer Lillianne Ouellette  in Campbellton.

with files from Radio-Canada


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