A COVID-19 outbreak at an east-end Hamilton, Ont., retirement home has been compounded by staffing problems at the facility, according to the city.
As of Monday, the Rosslyn on King Street East has one death and 83 confirmed coronavirus cases involving 64 residents and 19 staff, says public health.
The increase forced the city to deploy six staff and one physician from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) to the home, late last week.
Fifty-two residents from The Rosslyn were transferred to hospital between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning.
Twenty-seven residents were taken to St. Joe’s Charlton campus and twenty-five residents were transferred to the Hamilton General Hospital. according to public health.
Mass testing at the home began on Tuesday for all residents. There are still 16 tests pending. The deceased was a 70-year-old man who died in hospital on Thursday.
“This is a home we are very actively working with,” said the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson.
“It is a situation, though, that’s continuing to evolve and the numbers are changing.”
Paul Johnson, director of Hamilton’s emergency operations centre (EOC), says the city was brought on board to address the problem on Friday and that “staffing levels are critical” at the facility.
“We were brought into the conversation today and have been monitoring for the last couple of days because the staffing situation has worsened,” said Johnson in the city’s COVID-19 update on Friday afternoon.
Johnson said the shortage was due to staff who tested positive and are now taking time off, in addition to the generally low staff levels provider organizations keep.
“So if you do have people off for a variety of reasons, finding replacement staff if you’re not a large facility with a large number of staff to begin with, it becomes fairly challenging,” Johnson said.
The EOC director says he expects staffing levels will be “extremely low and challenging” over the long weekend and that the situation is “evolving.”
Johnson says when the staffing situation at a facility is critical, the EOC bring in as many resources as possible to look at staffing or other solutions to ensure proper care.
“I can tell you we’ve got lots of people on site ensuring the proper care is there. The challenge, of course, is in a 24/7 operation with vulnerable individuals,” Johnson said.
The residence was one of the homes where the city issued a public order in April, requiring the operation to fulfill a COVID-19 checklist provided by public health inspectors.
The city has since returned to the residence with another order as of Thursday in response to the outbreak.
“I can let you know there was another order that was issued in terms of this home yesterday as part of the outbreak to say that we wanted to ensure that they were continuing to do the things that they had been ordered to do before,” Richardson said.
Staffing support for the home is expected to be provided by the local health integration network (LHIN) and local hospitals, while PPE is expected to be provided by the province on an emergency basis, according to the city.
As of Monday, Hamilton Public Health says there were 593 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the city, and 27 deaths have been attributed to the virus.
The Rosslyn is one of 10 outbreaks in Hamilton as of Monday.
Eight long-term care homes (Arbour Creek, Blackadar Continuing Care, Dundurn Place Care Centre, Extendicare Hamilton, Grace Villa, Idlewyld Manor, Regina Gardens, and Wentworth Lodge) and two retirement residences (The Rosslyn, and The Village of Wentworth Heights) are the affected institutions.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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