Outbreak declared at Caressant Care Fergus; province unveils action plan for long-term care homes

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Public health officials have declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Caressant Care in Fergus.

There are 27 cases in Wellington County as of April 15, including one resident at Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Home in Fergus.

The case was included on Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s (WDGPH) outbreak bulletin on April 14.

The bulletin includes the following outbreaks linked specifically to COVID-19:

  • Caressant Care, Fergus, one resident;
  • Wellington Terrace, Abonye, one staff;
  • Headwaters Health Care Centre, Orangeville, two patients, 16 staff;
  • Homewood Health Centre, Guelph, nine residents, three staff;
  • St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Guelph, one resident, three staff;
  • Norfolk Manor, Guelph, 18 residents, two staff;
  • Dufferin Oaks, Shelburne, three residents, five staff; and
  • Shelburne Residence, four residents (the home reported two deaths in one day on April 13), two staff.

A coronavirus outbreak in one unit (Rosewood) at St. Joseph’s Health Centre was declared over on April 14, while one in another unit (Apple Blossom, declared on March 31) is ongoing.

On April 9, officials declared over an outbreak at Guelph General Hospital, where at least two dozen staff members had tested positive.

Across the WDGPH coverage area, public health has attributed 33 confirmed COVID-19 cases to institutional outbreaks, though the number of cases (staff/patient/resident) at hospitals and long-term care homes to date is close to three times that number.

Institutional outbreak is by by far the leading cause of known acquisition, ahead of community contraction (eight known cases), known contact with a COVID-19 case (4) and travel (3). The source of acquisition is not yet determined for the vast majority of cases in the region.

As of April 15, there have been 37 resolved cases and four deaths in the region.

Province announces new action plan for long-term care homes

On April 15 the province introduced its COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes.

“We will do everything we can to protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens because we all know they are most at risk during this pandemic,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“Our three-point action plan builds on the measures we have already taken to fortify that iron ring of protection we have placed around our long-term care residents and those who care for them.”

The plan, which aims to prevent further outbreaks and deaths in long-term care homes, includes:

  • enhanced testing for symptomatic residents/staff and those in contact with COVID-19 cases; expanded screening; and leveraging surveillance tools to move proactively against the disease;
  • more public health/infection control expertise and additional training and support to contain and prevent outbreaks;
  • growing the workforce by redeploying staff from hospitals and home and community care, as well as conducting intensive recruitment initiatives.

Officials said the government would implement changes within 48 hours and additional measures, including improved isolation capacity, are under development to improve preparedness and response capabilities.

“We must continue to act to stop the spread of this virus in our long-term care homes,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

“Nothing is more important than protecting the health and well-being of our loved ones in long-term care, or the front-line heroes who care for them.”