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Orillia hospital to temporarily lead Roberta Place nursing home in controlling COVID-19 outbreak

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has issued an order that will allow Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to temporarily lead Barrie, Ont.’s Roberta Place long-term care home in controlling a COVID-19 outbreak that has left nine dead.

According to the local health unit, 63 residents and 53 staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Testing is also being done to determine if the COVID-19 U.K. variant played a part in the Roberta Place outbreak.

Read more: More than 100 COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths reported at Barrie long-term care home

“This outbreak unfortunately has spread very rapidly and affected a large number of the residents and staff,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s medical officer of health.

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“The leadership of OSMH, together with a number of other agencies and organizations, is necessary to bring it under control.”

Moving forward, Orillia, Ont.’s hospital will temporarily provide leadership support to Roberta Place by working with other local organizations that have been helping to control the outbreak, including the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, County of Simcoe and Georgian College.

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These organizations have been helping to make sure that staffing, training, equipment and supplies are in place so that Roberta Place can continue to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“For the past week, we have had the support of a dedicated human resources team, who have worked diligently to secure the highest quality staff to offset possible gaps at our home,” Stephanie Barber, the community relations coordinator at Roberta Place, said in a statement Sunday.

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“Team members from many of our other long-term care homes, along with our regional operations team, have been deployed to further support the home.”

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The Canadian Red Cross has also been deployed to support Roberta Place in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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“The situation at Roberta Place is tragic and heartbreaking to all of us in Barrie,” local mayor Jeff Lehman said on Twitter Monday.

“Yesterday, in speaking with public health and others involved in the response, I know a major effort is underway to provide staff and support to Roberta Place.”

At this point, Lehman said the best thing people can do is “stop community spread” so it doesn’t reach long-term care.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Roberta Place was declared on Jan. 8. As of Monday, the local health unit says all residents and staff have been tested for the virus.

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According to the local health unit, 71 residents who weren’t sick and a number of other staff at Roberta Place received the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday through a mobile immunization unit.

Staff and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in Simcoe County and Muskoka have been receiving their COVID-19 vaccine doses at Barrie’s immunization clinic since it opened on Dec. 22, 2020.

Over the last several weeks, COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Simcoe Muskoka, with seniors age 80-plus having the highest infection rate.

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— With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca

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