Red Cross workers being dispatched to Ottawa-area long-term care homes

The federal government is sending workers from the Canadian Red Cross into seven long-term care facilities in and around Ottawa, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Sunday.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says federal government approved request to help Sunday

A message thanking health-care workers is seen beside a statue of Mary outside the Madonna Care Community in May. The Orléans long-term care home is one of seven in the Ottawa area that will soon receive assistance from the Canadian Red Cross. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The federal government is sending workers from the Canadian Red Cross into seven long-term care facilities in the Ottawa area, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Sunday.

"Today, our government approved a request for the [Red Cross] to help assess and stabilize the situation in seven long-term care facilities in Ottawa," Blair said in a tweet.

"Working together, we will get through this."

According to a spokesperson from Blair's office, the seven long-term care homes where the workers will be deployed are:

  • Almonte Country Haven in Mississippi Mills, Ont.
  • Carlingview Manor in Ottawa.
  • Madonna Care Community in Ottawa.
  • Marochel Manor in Ottawa.
  • Prescott and Russell Residence in Hawkesbury, Ont.
  • Sarsfield Colonial Home in Ottawa.
  • St. Jacques Nursing home in Embrun, Ont.

The request for help came from the Ontario government, the spokesperson said.

Based on the most recent data from local health units, two of the seven facilities — Sarsfield Colonial Home and Almonte Country Haven — are currently not experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

Twenty-eight residents died at Almonte Country Haven, however, during an outbreak this spring. Sarsfield Colonial Home, meanwhile, has never been listed by Ottawa Public Health (OPH) as having experienced an outbreak.

According to OPH, there are currently 14 active COVID-19 outbreaks in the city's long-term care homes and another 16 in retirement homes.

The most severe began Aug. 30 at the West End Villa, where more than 120 staff and residents have tested positive for coronavirus and 19 people have died. 

Psychological aid, logistical support

CBC News previously reported that the federal government was offering to send the Red Cross — a charity that receives funding from the Canadian government and has a long history of responding to disasters — into COVID-19 hotspots as case numbers rise and parts of the country slip into a second wave.

A senior government official had said the Red Cross could provide logistical support for testing centres and long-term care homes, help isolate infected individuals, provide assistance with feeding and caring for the sick and offer psychological aid.

CBC Ottawa asked Public Safety Canada, OPH and the Red Cross Sunday what tasks the workers in the seven Ottawa-area homes would be performing, but did not receive specific answers.

In a statement, however, the Red Cross did cite the work of its teams in Quebec long-term care homes, where they have been assisting with residents' daily lives, delivering personal protective equipment and offering training around disease transmission.

More than 600 Red Cross workers have been helping out in 25 long-term care homes in Quebec following a series of severe COVID-19 outbreaks in the spring. The organization has also helped to deliver food to temporary foreign workers isolating in southwestern Ontario.

In its own statement, OPH said it was "appreciative of the offer to support infection prevention and control measures" in the city's long-term care facilities.

A Public Safety Canada spokesperson said details of the Red Cross deployment were still being finalized and would be announced soon.


With files from Ryan Patrick Jones

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