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Kingston’s long-term care COVID-19 inspection initiative a ‘big win’: public health

KFL&A Public Health says they have been sending health inspectors to long-term care homes in the region since the first week of March, to help guard them from the novel coronavirus.
KFL&A Public Health says they have been sending health inspectors to long-term care homes in the region since the first week of March, to help guard them from the novel coronavirus. Kraig Krause / Global News

One of the reasons the Kingston region has seen so few novel coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities might be because the health unit mobilized their staff and began inspections at facilities housing the elderly early on, according to KFL&A Public Health.

“Right off the bat, our major concern was our long-term care and retirement homes,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region.

“When the restaurants were closed, we quickly looked at our public health inspectors and said, well, let’s use your expertise in the infection prevention control and have (health inspectors) assigned to long-term care facilities and retirement homes,” Moore said.

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So far, the Kingston region has seen only two outbreaks, both at Providence Manor. The first, was in a staff member, identified in early April. No other staff or residents caught the disease until this past weekend, when a resident tested positive for COVID-19.

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Nevertheless, the resident’s positive test is currently being investigated by public health, since they tested negative twice for the virus following the initial positive test.

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There are currently a total of three active cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston region, with a total of 59. Only four cases have been identified in the region over the last seven day.

Moore said they began the practice of inspecting long-term care and retirement homes in early March — something they continued on a weekly basis.

“We are one of the few health units that physically went to our long-term care facilities, inspected their facilities, made sure they had adequate signage, screening for infection control, good personal protective equipment, that they had an outbreak management plan, that they knew how to test,” Moore added.

He noted that during one of these inspections, one retirement home was found not to be following safety guidelines. They were warned with a potential of a $5,000 fine if they did not comply, but Moore said during the next week’s inspection, the home had changed its protocols.

Moore did not provide the name of the retirement home.

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Now, the public health unit is hoping to send nurses, who might have otherwise been busy doing contact tracing for COVID-19 if numbers in Kingston were growing at a more rapid rate, out with health inspectors to offer up health advice to homes in the region.

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“I would like our nurses to work with the inspectors and do dual visits so that you could have a clinical plus the enforcement side visiting all of these locations pros proactively,” the medical officer of health said.

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Moore pointed out that this long-term care initiative was a local one, and is a “big win” for the region. KFL&A Public Health have sent checklists created for the initiative to other health agencies in the province so they can emulate it.

Nevertheless, on previous occasions, Moore has noted that the region has been very lucky not to see a significant outbreak.

“Luck favours the prepared,” Moore said, giving credit to his team and the long-term care partners in the region.