New Brunswick nursing homes are in the midst of a devastating and deadly fourth wave of COVID-19, according to the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes.
Interim president Michael Keating said it is aware of nearly 18 long-term care facilities with at least one staff member infected. The association has been checking in daily with the nursing homes to get updates on the situation.
Keating said the hot spot at the moment is in Dalhousie at the Dalhousie Nursing Home – Villa Renaissance. Testing began on Wednesday and so far, 14 cases have been linked to the home. Five people have died there since Saturday, including one staff member — a man in his 40s, Keating said.
More results are expected on Tuesday, he added.
“Dalhousie was absolutely devastated,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “When you have an employee and a young resident that people interact with on a daily basis and know — it just completely destroyed a lot of them.”
It isn’t the only nursing home facing problems.
Shannex’s Losier Hall in Miramichi has been under an outbreak since Sept. 27. To date, 11 residents and six staff members have tested positive for the virus and two residents have died.
Isabelle Landry, a spokesperson for the organization, said it is saddened by the loss of the two residents and communication with the families and staff has been priority number one.
The Drew Nursing Home in Sackville also faced significant COVID-19 cases at its 119-bed facility. Forty cases were linked to the nursing home and eight people died, according to a statement provided by the nursing home executive.
Keating said the nursing home is awaiting another round of tests, which could give them the all-clear.
Organizations, advocates want transparency
What is troubling, Keating said, is the lack of transparency by the government in reporting these outbreaks, cases and deaths to the public. He said there is no direct line between the organization and Public Health.
“From our perspective at the association of nursing homes, we think that the public should know everything. We have to be transparent as possible,” he said.
Cecile Cassista, a seniors’ advocate based in Moncton, agrees more transparency is needed. She said she started getting emails about various nursing homes having outbreaks but not seeing anything published anywhere and it raised alarm bells for her.
She got emails from worried families and people working inside the nursing homes, with messages describing the situations as life and death.
“I’m really concerned that the transparency is not there,” she said.
“We’re not asking for details. We asking for, ‘Yes there is a breakout and here is the recommendations,’ and they’re not being transparent about it.”
So far, little information has been made publicly available about the outbreaks facing New Brunswick’s long-term care sector. On Sept. 22, the government did release a list of 15 locations the PROMPT team had been sent for assistance, which the Department of Health now says has increased to 19.
Most of them fall within zones under circuit breaker restrictions. The Department of Health confirmed on Tuesday that there are 12 outbreaks of those 19 locations connected to the long-term care facilities and one homeless shelter.
Bruce Macfarlane, a spokesperson for the department, said the criteria for an outbreak is two cases or more in residents or staff with a lab-confirmed diagnosis where transmission within the facility cannot be ruled out.
Outbreaks have been declared in the following locations: Drew Nursing Home in Sackville, Grand Falls Manor in Grand Falls, Losier Hall in Miramichi, Maison du Bonheur in Edmundston, The Crossing in Saint John, Woodstone Residence in Moncton, Agence Residentielle in Campbellton, Residence du Marais in Moncton, Manoir St Jean Baptiste in Bouctouche, Foyer de Renaissance in St-Anne-de-Madawaska and Villa Renaissance in Dalhousie.
The House of Nazareth in Moncton, which is a homeless shelter, has also been identified as an outbreak location.
“Regardless if an outbreak has been officially declared, various levels of assistance at these sites depend on the requirements of each location,” Macfarlane said in an email.
Three more people had died as of Tuesday, including one person 80 to 89 in Zone 5, the Campbellton region, and two people 90 and over in the Moncton region and Edmundston region.