The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) quickly responded to increased testing for COVID-19 in its long-term care homes, in large part due to its community paramedicine program established by the Prescott and Russell Emergency Services.

In a memorandum distributed to health system organizations and partners on April 21, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care indicated: “The province will immediately begin proactive surveillance testing to understand the current status of COVID-19 in individual homes, including the targeted testing of asymptomatic residents and staff.”

The directive further requested that local public health units immediately begin developing a local implementation plan, to “facilitate testing of every resident and staff at each long-term care home.” In accordance with the memorandum, and in support and at the request of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), the Prescott and Russell Emergency Services proceeded to test 114 patients and staff at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Plantagenet on Thursday, April 23.

“All the residents and staff tested were asymptomatic, meaning that they did not demonstrate or produce any symptoms of COVID-19,” explained Marc-André Périard, Director of the Prescott and Russell Emergency Services. “These tests were performed by our community paramedics, who were able to complete this task within a three-hour period.”

As of April 25, three employees and eight residents had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Pinecrest facility. However, only one of the employees was showing symptoms. There were no other COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities or institutions within the EOHU’s territory on April 27.

“Our community paramedicine program reduces the need for these patients to be transported to emergency departments, by treating early signs while keeping people in the comfort of their residences,” stated Pierre Leroux, Warden of the UCPR Council. “Early detection is the key to positive outcomes, and through the partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Long-Term Care, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the Prescott and Russell Emergency Services, we are helping to ensure the well-being of our most vulnerable residents.”