New Brunswick

Care home battling month-long outbreak had 'gaps' in operational plan, WorkSafe says

A long-term care home in Edmundston where five residents have died of COVID-19 had "gaps" in its pandemic operational plan, according to WorkSafe New Brunswick.

Edmundston's Manoir Belle Vue, which has seen 89 COVID-19 cases and 5 deaths, says more changes are being made

Five people have died since the outbreak at Manoir Belle Vue in Edmundston was declared a month ago. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada file photo)

A long-term care home in Edmundston where five residents have died of COVID-19 had "gaps" in its pandemic operational plan, according to WorkSafe New Brunswick.

Manoir Belle Vue, home to a month-long outbreak of the virus, acknowledged in a Facebook post this week that Public Health officials were making "even more changes" in an attempt to get things under control.

That was 28 days after Public Health officials declared an outbreak at the home. There have been 89 cases at the home as of Friday.

WorkSafe spokesperson Florence Flowers confirmed that the Crown corporation, which is enforcing workplace COVID-19 safety measures, inspected the residence and reviewed its operational plan.

"There were some gaps identified," she said. 

WorkSafeNB collaborated with Public Health, the Provincial Regional Outbreak Management Team, the Department of Social Development and Manoir Belle Vue "to address those gaps and implement solutions to bring the outbreak under control," she said in an email.

WorkSafeNB said it is confident that Manoir Belle Vue 'is now operating with appropriate guidelines in place.' (CBC News)

No fines issued to date, WorkSafe says

That work led to "significant improvements," she added.

WorkSafe has not issued any fines "to date," and Flowers would not elaborate on the gaps that were discovered.

Under the province's COVID-19 emergency order, business and service providers must have operational plans to minimize the risk of infection. WorkSafe is responsible for monitoring compliance and enforcement.

"We are confident that Manoir Belle Vue is now operating with appropriate guidelines in place and that WorkSafeNB, as well as the other departments, will continue to support their compliance efforts moving forward," Flowers said.

Manoir director Charlene Roussel did not respond to a call from CBC News.

We don't really know what's going on outside our rooms.- Gérald Allain, former Edmundston mayor and resident of Manoir Belle Vue

Health Department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said he did not have information on any gaps in the facility's operational plan. 

"During an outbreak, it is standard practice that Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures are continuously reviewed and reinforced," he said. "Returning facility staff are receiving refresher training on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and IPC protocols."

Three 'support team' employees test positive

Former Edmundston mayor Gérald Allain, who lives in the home, said he had no way of knowing about any gaps because he's confined to his room. 

"We don't really know what's going on outside our rooms," he said.

The Manoir's Facebook page announced Wednesday that another resident and three employees of "the support team" had tested positive for COVID-19. Macfarlane said there have been 89 cases at the home since the outbreak was declared Jan. 20.

The day it was declared, Public Health said members of the Provincial Rapid Outbreak Management Team were on site "providing support for residents and the facility's clinical care team."

Macfarlane said support teams "consist of PROMT team members and others," but would not confirm if anyone working for the province had been infected at the Manoir.

COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days. The new cases showing up Wednesday were 28 days after the outbreak was declared.

That means cases were still spreading well after the province stepped in.

Visitors gathered outside the windows of loved ones on Valentine's Day weekend at Manoir Belle Vue. The care home posted this photo to Facebook with the caption 'There really are angels on earth.' (Facebook)

'Obvious something's not working,' families say

Some family members of residents reacted angrily this week when the Manoir announced the new cases and said on Facebook that "even more changes" would be made to halt the spread.

"Many changes???" commented Sylvie Tardif, whose father lives at the home. "Too bad no one thought of that sooner. I am very disappointed."

Joe Themens, a Grand Falls resident with a parent living there, thanked volunteers at the Manoir but said it was "obvious that something's not working. … Come on! Everyone is taking appropriate measures and the COVID-19 virus continues to spread despite it all." 

Tardif did not respond to an interview request, and Themens said he would not grant one.

Others defended the facility. Monique Boutot, whose mother living at the Manoir died last Sunday, urged other family members to "find another target, please!"

She said the care at the Manoir has been excellent and "if you need a target for your rage, take it out on the people [in the community] still refusing to wear masks, who only wear it over their mouth while their noses are free to contract the virus and spread it."


Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. Raised in Moncton, he also produces the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.


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