Residents, staff at Whisperwood Villa to undergo 2nd round of COVID-19 testing

All employees and staff inside Whisperwood Villa in Charlottetown will be re-tested for COVID-19 later this week.

Restrictions have been put in place at the home

Testing at Whisperwood Villa has been underway since health officials announced a positive case of COVID-19 with a connection to the home. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

All of the tests done for COVID-19 at Whisperwood Villa so far have come back negative and re-testing will be done later this week. 

One of P.E.I.'s current active COVID-19 cases is an employee at the private long-term care facility.

Health officials say the person who tested positive for the virus wore the proper personal-protective equipment while working at the home, and does not have direct contact with the residents.

"We have our support departments, such as housekeeping, laundry, dietary, activities, maintenance. And this employee was an employee of one of those departments," said Jason Lee, CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes, the company that operates the facility. 

"And therefore was able to maintain that six feet of social distancing."

I remain really hopeful, as I know all of us are, that all those second tests will also be negative.— Dr. Heather Morrison

So far, all but one resident and a couple of staff members have been tested, said Lee.

That resident can't be tested because of an existing medical condition, said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer. The home has put that resident on additional precautions for 14 days.

Re-testing of residents and staff will start on Wednesday, Morrison said, at a briefing Monday. 

Whisperwood Villa has closed the dining rooms, ended group activities and created pods to limit the movement of residents throughout the home. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"We have a lot of confidence in our tests, but we actually increased the sensitivity of the tests by doing two tests so many days apart," said Morrison. "And that's why we want to be that much more certain that … those tests are accurate.

"I remain really hopeful, as I know all of us are, that all those second tests will also be negative." 

Increased precautions

Inside the home, increased precautions are being taken to try to ensure everyone stays safe.

Some of these measures, like closing dining rooms and ending indoor and outdoor visits, are restrictions that were put in place at the outset of the pandemic and had since been eased. Indoor visits were allowed to start on June 26.

But the home has also taken other measures, Lee said. 

"Things like creating pods inside the home," he said. "So our residents live in different corridors, and normally there's a lot of movement throughout the building," he said. 

"We're now moving to limit that movement at least until Saturday and keeping people, not in their rooms, but in their communities, in their hallways." 

Jason Lee, CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes, says restrictions will stay in place until the second round of tests come back negative. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Residents will also eat meals in their rooms for the time being. 

Lee said he hopes the re-testing of all residents and staff will be done over the coming days and that those results will be back by end of day on Friday.  

If all those tests come back negative, the home will then look at easing the restrictions.

"Certainly the different communities being separated inside the home, we'll open that up, the dining room will reopen and we'll start, provided we have a green light from the Chief Public Health Office, to start booking those visits again inside the home and outside the home." 

But those visits won't start right away. Lee said the home will take at least two weeks before welcoming visitors again. 

"We probably will use that 14-day time period before we fully go back on some of these restrictions," he said. 

"We might even have to go a little bit longer than 14 days." 

Lee said decisions on easing restrictions will be made in conjunction with the Chief Public Health Office.

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