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COVID-19: The Ottawa Hospital setting up extra beds at West End Villa long-term care home

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The Ottawa Hospital is partnering with a local long-term care home provider on a new transitional unit to reserve hospital capacity for those who need it most during the third wave of COVID-19.

The local health-care institution announced Friday it will manage an off-site transitional care unit at Extendicare’s West End Villa in Ottawa.

The unit will open in the first week of May and will add 55 beds for patients transitioning from the hospital to either long-term care or other care providers in the city.

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The Ottawa Hospital said in a release that the new unit will serve patients who no longer need acute care at the hospital.

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The Ottawa Hospital has previously worked with Extendicare to manage operations at some of its long-term care homes that were overwhelmed in the earlier days of the pandemic.

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Hospital CEO Cameron Love said the new unit is a reversal of sorts, with long-term care providers now stepping up to help alleviate pressures on the local hospital system.

“While in the early days of the pandemic, health-care workers supported long-term care homes in need, now long-term care homes are supporting hospitals and helping us create care capacity for the most acutely ill,” he said in a statement.

The West End Villa last reported a COVID-19 outbreak from March 19 to March 31 after two staff members tested positive for the virus, according to Ottawa Public Health. An outbreak at the site stretching from Aug. 30 to Nov. 25 in 2020 saw 145 total cases and 18 resident deaths in connection with COVID-19.

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“All the same infection prevention and control protocols followed in hospitals will be applied to this unit, in order to ensure the safety of patients, staff and residents,” said The Ottawa Hospital in a statement.

Extendicare, which runs 111 long-term care homes in Canada, said in a statement to Global News that it now has fewer than 10 residents with active COVID-19 cases across its facilities.

Dr. Matthew Morgan, Extendicare’s chief medical officer, said high rates of vaccination among its staff and ongoing visitor testing have helped make the company’s care homes safer today than at any point in the pandemic.

He added that having access The Ottawa Hospital’s family health team will benefit all West End Villa residents.

Funding for the program comes from Ontario’s Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and will last through to March 2022.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been relatively stable in Ottawa over the past week, though occupancy levels remain at or close to record highs.

There are 119 Ottawa residents currently in hospital with COVID-19, according to OPH, with 27 patients in the intensive care unit.

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OPH says 91 per cent of acute care beds and 68 per cent of ICU beds are currently occupied across the city’s health system.

The Ottawa Hospital said last week that it has activated surge plans and is prepared to accommodate up to 220 COVID-19 patients.

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OPH reported 254 new coronavirus infections on Friday as the number of active COVID-19 cases locally dropped to 3,071.

Ottawa’s weekly coronavirus positivity rate also dropped slightly as of Friday to 10.9 per cent, compared with a high of 11.7 per cent in the previous period.

There are now 53 COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa, nine of which affect workplaces, OPH says.

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