In an emotional scene at a Bobcaygeon, Ont., nursing home on Friday afternoon, a resident took steps outside for the first time since a coronavirus outbreak claimed the lives of 30 people.
Pinecrest Nursing Home resident Lorraine Button, 91, went for a walk outdoors for the first time since the March 20 outbreak was declared, administrator Mary Carr said. The outbreak has claimed 29 residents and a spouse of a resident who all died of COVID-19 complications.
According Carr, Button had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 1.
“Lorraine loves to be outdoors and goes on walks around the community daily, so this breath of fresh air tastes especially sweet today,” Carr said.
“Staff are clearly thrilled to share this moment with her.”
After more than two weeks straight of reporting on the deaths of residents, Carr on Friday reported no new deaths for the eighth day in a row. The last death at the 65-bed facility was reported on April 9.
“We continue to believe that we have turned a corner and that many of our residents who had previously been ill or tested positive for COVID are now doing much better,” said Carr.
Carr said the facility continues to work closely with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit to commence retesting next week for residents who had previously tested positive but have been healthy for at least 14 days.
Plans include reintroducing exercise to their daily routine, she said.
“This is positive news after a very challenging time. We’re not out of the woods yet, but these are very encouraging signs.”
The health unit last week reported that 28 staff had tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak was declared. Carr said earlier this week that “a few” staff members had returned to work.
Since the outbreak, there has been an outpouring of support from the community and afar. According to the Community Foundation of Kawartha Lakes, more than $110,000 has been raised for the Bobcaygeon and Area COVID-19 Relief Fund. The funds will support patients, their families and healthcare workers to address urgent need such as financial assistance, food supplies, transportation, technology and mental health resources.
“We’ve been receiving requests daily since the Fund was set up on March 30th,” said Dianne Lister, who chairs the Bobcaygeon advisors group. “Front-line caregivers, many diagnosed with COVID-19, have approached us for support. There are also community members who have suffered a loss of income as a result of the virus, or who need help bridging their budgets while applying for government benefit programs.
“Providing vouchers to cover grocery bills often allows families a bit of leeway to meet other bills, like rent, hydro, propane and emergency household repairs and over 80 relief kits that included grocery and gas vouchers and Tim Hortons gift cards have been provided to staff at Pinecrest Nursing Home,” she added.
Lister notes advisors are also helping people access grief counselling and mental health professionals.