North Wellington hospitals to help manage Caressant Care Arthur outbreaks

ARTHUR – The Ministry of Long-Term Care has approved a new agreement that will allow local hospital staff to help get a COVID-19 outbreak under control at Caressant Care Arthur.

The “voluntary management contract” between the Arthur facility and North Wellington Health Care (NWHC), which operates hospitals in Mount Forest and Palmerston, was announced by the province on Jan. 13.

It will be in effect for 90 days, though it can be extended if necessary. The contract applies to the long-term care side of the facility only.

“Protecting our long-term care residents is our top priority and we are doing everything we can to keep them safe,” stated Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

“I thank the dedicated staff at North Wellington hospitals and Caressant Care Arthur Nursing Home for working together to stop the COVID-19 outbreak in this long-term care home.”

There have been two deaths at Arthur Caressant Care, one each in the retirement home and long-term care portions of the facility, since two outbreaks were declared on Dec. 12 and 26, respectively.

The outbreaks have grown to 30 cases in long-term care (14 residents and 16 staff) and 35 in the retirement home (23 residents, 12 staff) – for a total of 65 cases.

Kate Kobbes, vice president of operations for the Wellington Health Care Alliance (WHCA), which includes NWHC, will be leading the efforts at Caressant Care Arthur.

A qualified long-term care home administrator with more than 20 years experience in healthcare, Kobbes will oversee:

  • delivery of all clinical services to residents;
  • delivery of operational services including management of staff and contracts;
  • delivery of all communication, administrative and financial services; and
  • development of a transition plan back to Caressant Care Arthur.

Over the next 90 days, the plan is to meet the needs of residents, stabilize staffing, stop the outbreak and enhance services to avoid future outbreaks, states a WHCA press release.

Residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being kept together and separate from the rest of the population.

Hospital employees are working with staff at the home, and patients and families have been informed of the change.

“We are asking (hospital) staff if they would like to be redeployed, if needed,” WHCA spokesperson Alison Armstrong stated in an email.

“We are currently working with (Caressant Care) on schedules and staffing. Many of our physicians have offered help as well.”

Management contracts are one way the province has tried to address serious outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

To date, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has issued seven mandatory orders and 26 voluntary contracts between Ontario hospitals and long-term care homes.

Ministry of Long-Term Care officials say the province’s “ongoing measures” at long-term care facilities include “emergency funding, regulatory flexibility, staffing support, expanded testing, along with direction and guidance on outbreak management, and infection prevention and control.

“The Ministry of Long-Term Care will continue to make decisions based on case-by-case assessments, and in partnership with the local hospitals, as to which long-term care homes may require additional interim hospital support.”