The COVID-19 outbreak at the Prescott and Russell Residence is now in its fifth week, but at the November 10 United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) Committee of the Whole meeting, the Administrator of the UCPR-owned facility, UCPR council and UCPR administration were confident that the COVID-19 outbreak at the 146-bed long-term care facility has been managed properly.

The first case of COVID-19 in the outbreak was confirmed on October 9.  As of November 13, active cases remained in 23 residents and five staff members, and there had been 19 resident deaths in connection with the outbreak.

“Employees are returning to work; that is good news,” said Administrator Alexandre Gorman, about the number of employee cases that were resolved, which allowed those staff members to return to work.

Visitors to residents by family members have been prohibited throughout the outbreak, unless a resident is near death or is extremely ill.  On August 28, the Ontario government permitted residents of long-term care facilities to go on outings with family.  On October 15, the provincial government suspended outings again.

During an October 23 media briefing on the outbreak, UCPR Chief Administrative Officer Stéphane Parisien said that the UCPR believed that the outbreak may have been introduced into the facility when residents could leave and visit family members, but that the UCPR was not completely sure that was the cause.

Gorman explained that during the outbreak, the administration of medication, changing of bandages, food and beverage services, incontinence care, visits from physicians, and laboratory services have continued to be maintained.

Physiotherapy, small group activities, foot care, and hairstyling, have been suspended.  Laundry services have been reduced.

Gorman stated that Ministry of Long-Term Care inspections have taken place to make sure that care levels are appropriate and that the proper procedures are being followed.  He noted that the residence communicates with the ministry daily.

Due to staff shortages resulting from the outbreak, paramedics have been assisting at the residence since October 18 in a capacity similar to nurses.

One-on-one activities with residents, disinfection, and food distribution assistance has been provided by 24 personnel from the Canadian Red Cross since October 23.

Gorman emphasized that the designated Power of Attorney (POA) for each resident is being updated weekly via telephone. If there are health status changes, the POA is notified.  The POAs for all positive cases are also contacted.

Due to the confidential nature of the information being shared, a reduced number of employees are making the calls to POAs.  It is not possible for residence staff to contact every family member other than the designated POA.  Gorman encouraged POAs to share the information they receive with other members of their families.

Gorman referred to the severity of COVID-19 cases in the various units of the residence as red, yellow, or green, with red being the most severe and green being the least severe.  According to Gorman, as of November 10, three units at the facility were under green designation with no active COVID-19 cases.  Two units were designated as yellow because of COVID-19 cases, and one unit was red, because there were many active cases among residents.  Gorman did not provide exact case numbers per unit or how many people live in each unit.  The yellow units were expected to move to a green status by the end of the week.  The colour designation determines the extent of protective equipment employees need to use, and which services can be provided.  Gorman said that services that have been suspended will be re-introduced to the green units first and that discussions are already underway with providers about how resumption will proceed.

Casselman Mayor Daniel Lafleur congratulated Gorman for his management of the outbreak.

“It is not easy,” Gorman acknowledged, adding “We have a good team,” referring to residence staff.

“This is a sad episode in our community,” said Parisien, but complimented Gorman and residence staff for “exceptional work,” thanked the paramedics for their contribution.

UCPR Warden Pierre Leroux said that it is easy for people to criticize how the regional government has responded to the outbreak, but the people who are part of the local government are human and care about the residents and moving forward in the best way possible.

“I appreciate the staff and the stress they are under and I congratulate them for a job well done,” said Leroux.