The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has declared an outbreak at Heritage Lodge retirement residence in Vankleek Hill after one resident, one staff member and one third-party care provider tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff member and third-party care provider are in self-isolation at home. In a media statement, Revera Living, which operates Heritage Lodge addressed the outbreak.

“We are working closely with Eastern Ontario Health officials to implement pandemic outbreak protocols and infection control practices,” said Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer, Revera. “Residents are monitored for symptoms daily. All staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shifts and are required to wear a surgical mask and eye protection in the residence at all times.”

“Staff are performing enhanced cleaning, disinfecting high touch surfaces like handrails and doors, common areas and staff rooms frequently. To promote physical distancing, residents are being served meals in their rooms. Group recreation programming has been replaced by one-on-one activities with residents for social engagement.”

The statement said that residents, their families and the staff have been informed of the status of the outbreak. Residents at Heritage Lodge who have consented and are able to be vaccinated, have received their booster shot. All Revera staff members are fully vaccinated and booster shots are underway.

Relatives of some residents of Heritage Lodge contacted The Review on Sunday, concerned that a nurse employed at Heritage Lodge was continuing to work, despite having tested positive for COVID-19.

“Out of respect for the privacy of the health information and status of our staff, we cannot comment on the information that family members of residents of Heritage Lodge in Vankleek Hill may have shared with you,” said Larry Roberts. Director, Communications for Revera. “What we can say is that the Ministry of Long-Term Care and Public Health officials at Eastern Ontario Public Health (EOHU) can provide authorization, on an emergency basis, for staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 to continue working if their absence could adversely affect the health and safety of residents.”

“In such a situation, Public Health would provide directions on additional safety precautions necessary to safeguard residents until qualified replacement staff are available and confirmed.”

Karen Albright, whose mother resides at Heritage Lodge, said she received a call from staff at Revera on Monday after she inquired about the situation.

“He explained it to me, but I still don’t think it’s right,” Albright said. “Apparently there’s no help available anywhere, so because (the nurse) was asymptomatic they let her come back and administer medication.”