St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health have started testing all asymptomatic residents and select staff within their long-term care and retirement homes in Hamilton, Brantford, Guelph and the Niagara region for the novel coronavirus.
The pilot surveillance project aims to save lives by controlling the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, within “congregate” settings.
Dr. Tom Stewart, CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health, says the organizations will be testing roughly 3,000 patients and staff throughout their facilities.
Stewart says that by testing everyone before they have symptoms and before there’s an outbreak, public health officials can understand whether there are “patients sitting there that are asymptomatic now that may cause an outbreak down the road.”
He notes that similar pilots are underway elsewhere in Ontario, and based on the results, he predicts that public health officials “will be pivoting and taking a new strategy of testing as many of these patients, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, as we can” in long-term care facilities across the province.
Stewart adds that the hope is that public health officials “can isolate and contact trace those that are asymptomatic so we could prevent others from getting it and from having a disaster on our hands.”
In Hamilton, 12 of the 16 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday involved residents living in congregate settings,
They include six residents of Cardinal Retirement Home, four residents of Heritage Green Nursing Home and two people living at the Good Shepherd Centre’s Emmanuel House hospice.View link »