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COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides prompts concerns over staffing, safety

Click to play video: 'Worried families stage protest outside Maimonides over COVID-19 outbreak' Worried families stage protest outside Maimonides over COVID-19 outbreak
WATCH: Families of residents at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre are stepping up the pressure on the government in an attempt to get the COVID-19 outbreak under control. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, they fear the situation could get worse, leading to wider implications. – Nov 26, 2020

Administration at the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc, a government-run long-term care home, or CHSLD, is disputing claims by family members that a recent COVID-19 outbreak is being caused by staff shortages.

According to the Quebec health ministry, as of Nov. 25, 43 clients have tested positive for the virus and four have died.

Jennifer Clarke, site coordinator at Maimonides, said staff have also been infected.

“Currently we have 22 employees that are off with COVID,” she told Global News.

“These employees are front-line staff but also staff who work in other areas.”

She said seven family caregivers have also fallen ill, but four patients have since recovered.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides sparks concern over staff' COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides sparks concern over staff
COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides sparks concern over staff – Nov 26, 2020

Read more: COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides seniors residence in Côte Saint-Luc has residents, families on edge

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Clarke said there is no huge staff shortage, adding that they have hired more patient attendants or PAB’s since the summer.

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“We were able to add 70 full time PABs, so in terms of that we are actually above our expected quota,” she pointed out.

The bigger problem, she noted, is finding enough registered nurses, but to help remedy that, nurses are being transferred from other institutions to help.

She stressed that those nurses remain at the home.

However, family members of those who live at Maimonides, like Susan Rakita, insist staff shortages, especially among patient attendants, are more acute after hours and on weekends.

“PABs do the day to day care of the residents,” she argued. “If they have enough, why are residents sitting in soiled diapers?”

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She and some family members insist they have seen staff members move between care units, including between COVID-19 hot zones and other areas — a claim the health board, as well as Maimonides management, deny.

“We know that they are,” said Rakita, “and to say that they are not, you’re basically calling the nurses themselves liars.”

Clark said she suspects the rapid spread is due to a few factors including what se calls “PPE fatigue.”

“These employees and caregivers are in the protective equipment every day for hours,” she explained, and it’s easy to make mistakes or to probably forget and to perhaps pull a mask down or touch your hair.  So these are things that could happen.”

She said there are now protocols in place to decrease that risk.

Read more: Quebec reports 1,100 new coronavirus cases, 28 more deaths as hospitalizations remain stable

On top of that, she added, clients with cognitive challenges walk the halls and dedicated staff are supposed to help keep them in their rooms.

“(But) it’s not always possible,” she noted, “so that definitely contributed to the increase in spread.”

Five days ago, Montreal Public Health visited Maimonides. Director Dr. Mylène Drouin said at a press conference that inspectors were mostly satisfied with how the outbreak is being managed.”

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“We did some specific recommendations that are, I would say, marginal or complimentary to what was in place,” she told reporters.

Still, families insist staffing and safety issues need to be addressed.  They say they believe employees are doing their best but that they need more support to keep residents safe.

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