31 active outbreaks listed in Waterloo Region LTC, retirement homes

There are 31 outbreaks at long term care homes and retirement homes across Waterloo Region, according the latest numbers on the region’s COVID-19 dashboard.

At Highview Residences, a retirement home in Kitchener, one of their two buildings is in a COVID-19 outbreak. Four residents have tested positive, along with three staff members.

The chief operating officer, Joy Birch, the residents who tested positive are all stable and are experiencing symptoms similar to a common cold.

All staff and visitors who go through the doors get rapid tested every day.

“Because of the congregate living environment of our home, because all of our residents all have dementia,” said Birch.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise at long-term care and retirement homes across the region.

St. Andrew’s Terrace has 43 cases, with Lanark Heights, Sunnyside and Golden Years reporting 30 or more cases. University Gates has 13 and is reporting the recent death of a resident.

“The team from the Village at University Gates is feeling the weight of sorrow after a resident who had tested positive for COVID-19 passed away; our deepest condolences are with loved ones who are facing this grief. Any loss is difficult for the team members in our Villages, but the growing risk community spread presents during this time is greatly heightening concerns and we thank everyone for taking all precautions seriously, both inside and outside of the Villages,” said Kristian Partington, director of communications with Schlegel Villages, in an emailed statement.

Many homes are facing staffing shortages either due to testing positive for the disease or being in close contact with a positive case.

“Staff shortages may mean that homes are having a greater difficulty meeting the basic needs of residence,” said John P. Hirdes from the School of Public Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo.

Hirdes said there’s a higher staff absenteeism rate at long term care and retirement homes compared to previous waves due to omicron spreading faster than other variants.

In a media release sent last week, the region said contingency plans are in place and staff may be redeployed to maintain levels of critical services for residents at places like long term care homes and homeless shelters,

“We need to be as concerned about getting resources to long-term care as we are about other sectors in the health system,” said Hirdes.

Hirdes said the elderly are the most vulnerable population when it comes to COVID-19, adding that it’s not only their physical well-being we should be monitoring, but also their mental health.

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