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N.B. minister says some long-term care workers have quit, director disputes claims

Campbellton Regional Hospital’s reopening its emergency department
Several services were suspended after a cluster of COVID-19 cases were traced to a doctor who worked there. Callum Smith has more.

The Campbellton Regional Hospital’s emergency department is expected to begin reopening Friday with limited hours.

Several services were suspended after a cluster of COVID-19 cases were traced to a doctor who worked there. New Brunswick announced two new cases Wednesday, both of which are from the Restigouche region.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: N.B. reports 2 more cases Wednesday, bringing active case total to 15

In all, Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard says three staff members and five residents at Manoir de la Vallée, a 57-bed long-term care facility in Atholville, have tested positive.

The cases are all in the 18-bed Alzheimer’s or advanced dementia wing, according to the facility’s director.

“We are doing everything in our power to keep this virus at bay,” says Bernard Savoie, the Lokia Group regional director for Restigouche County. “We want to reassure [families] that measures are in place to protect everybody. We also have an exterior cleaning company that’s disinfecting the building three times a day.”
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Savoie says the manor typically has about 30 staff, but Premier Blaine Higgs previously mentioned 10 have left the job. Ambulance New Brunswick and Extra-Mural staff are filling in.

The health networks are also helping.

Savoie says those employees are isolating, but Shephard said Wednesday some have quit.

“We have had some resignations,” she told reporters. “Not completely unforeseeable, in this sector. I’ve made it very clear that I do not judge that harshly. This is a highly female-dominated sector, many of which are single parents.”

“They’re expected to return,” Savoie says. “They chose to self-isolate, but they all still have jobs with us… They’re not fired, they didn’t quit.”

The Campbellton region’s cluster of cases forced the regional hospital’s emergency department to close because a doctor who worked there tested positive and spread the virus.

READ MORE: N.B. identifies 3 new COVID-19 cases in long-term care facility near Campbellton

Since more staff are returning to work, Vitalité Health Network’s CEO says the ER is expected to reopen from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., starting Friday. Outside of those hours, he says patients are taken to Bathurst’s hospital.

“There are eight admissions in the [Chaleur Regional Hospital] that come from the Campbellton region,” Gilles Lanteigne says. “There’s probably also in the vicinity of 75 to 80 people that have been seen in specialized clinics, so it did impact the volume, but I think it was manageable. I think it’s still manageable.”
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Ambulatory care services and non-urgent surgeries remain suspended. All impacted services will be reassessed early next week.

In a news release, the health network “thanks the people of the Restigouche for their patience and understanding during this difficult period.”