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1 staff member at Providence Manor, 3 at Providence Care Hospital diagnosed with COVID-19

Kingston's public health unit says there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility in the region.
Kingston's public health unit says there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility in the region. Global Kingston

There is currently a COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility in the region, Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer for health for KFL&A Public Health, has confirmed.

Although public health would not originally confirm the location of the long-term care facility, Providence Care later confirmed that the outbreak happened at its long-term care facility, Providence Manor.

One staff member contracted the disease at the long-term care facility, according to Cathy Szabo, president and CEO of Providence Care.

She said at this time, no residents at the long-term care homes have caught the disease.

“We are closely monitoring all individuals on the impacted resident-home area. All staff, residents and their family members that met the criteria for close contact have been informed about the confirmed case and will be monitored for the next 14 days for signs and symptoms.”

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Despite being asked repeatedly, Szabo would not say how many health-care workers at either Providence Manor or the hospital were put on leave after being deemed a close contact of their four employees with COVID-19.

Dr. Kieran Moore said public health is currently investigating close contacts, but could not give a number of how many are currently quarantined.

Other long-term care facilities in Ontario have seen deadly outbreaks, including a recent outbreak that caused a death in Almonte, Ont.

Moore said the situation at Providence Manor is hopefully a much different one, since, for now, the outbreak is limited to the staff member, who took appropriate steps to self-isolate.

“This individual didn’t have any symptoms while at work, and did the right thing as soon as they developed the beginning of symptoms with an abrupt fever and a cough. They got tested appropriately, and as so, that is a good news story in that the individual clearly wasn’t at work with any symptoms.”

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READ MORE: Leeds, Grenville, Lanark region dealing with coronavirus outbreak at 2nd long-term care facility

Szabo did say two units at the hospital are no longer taking in patients, and one wing of the long-term care facility is in quarantine.

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That wing, according to Moore, is the fifth floor of Providence Manor Montreal wing, which amounts to one unit at the long-term care facility.

There are now four beds at Providence Care Hospital that are no longer taking patients due to the hospital outbreak.

As for the three hospital workers at the Providence Care Hospital, Moore said there is no clear transmission link for the disease, which makes public health believe the staff member caught the disease through community contact.

Two of the workers were employed in the same unit, while another was in a different unit, Moore said. There is no evidence that they caught the disease from a patient.

He added at this time, no other health-care workers have shown any symptoms.

Moore said it’s not uncommon for an outbreak to take place at a long-term care facility since the public health unit is currently dealing with myriad illnesses in retirement homes in the area.

“I can confirm that we’re working with all of our long-term care facilities, and I have a list in front of me of seven, seven different respiratory illness outbreaks that are going on in our community — COVID-19 is one of them,” said Moore.

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He added that public health officials have been preparing for this possibility for weeks and are continuing to do so.

We are diligently preparing. We’re meeting three times a week with our long-term care partners to advise them and guide them. We met yesterday with the physicians and nurse practitioners that are working so diligently to care for individuals in those communities,” Moore said.

KFL&A Public Health did not notify the public of its first outbreak at a local long-term care facility, like other public health units in Ottawa, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and the Peterborough region have done.

Moore said it is the local public health unit’s decision to allow other long-term care facilities to announce their own outbreaks.

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“It’s our preference that the partner, whoever has the outbreak, declare the outbreak,” Moore said. “We feel that it’s their responsibility to do it and we want to be 100 per cent behind them in supporting them in the outbreak management.”

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When asked if he thought he was putting too much trust in individual organizations to report outbreaks, Moore said public health has longstanding relationships with health-care facilities in the region, and trusts them.

“We want to respect the organizations and their communication staff. At no point do I want to get ahead of them. I want to work with them. And in all of these instances, we have been a trusted and respected partner in communicating to the public on any of these issues.”

Moore did say that KFL&A Public Health would most likely announce outbreaks at smaller organizations that do not have communication teams prepared to handle such announcements.