Manitoba care homes grapple with COVID outbreaks ‘This pandemic is just not over’

Four long-term care home residents have died in the past week, as roughly 20 such facilities across the province deal with COVID-19 outbreaks.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/03/2022 (316 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Four long-term care home residents have died in the past week, as roughly 20 such facilities across the province deal with COVID-19 outbreaks.

Manitoba public health officials, in the now-weekly pandemic update news release, said Thursday the list of 15 people who have succumbed to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus since March 18 includes: a woman in her 70s at Eastview Place (Altona); a woman in her 90s at Dr. Gendreau Personal Care Home (St. Rose du Lac); a woman in her 80s at Calvary Place (Winnipeg); and a woman in her 80s at River Park Gardens (Winnipeg).

“The most vulnerable seniors live in personal care homes,” said Jan Legeros, executive director of the Long Term & Continuing Care Association of Manitoba.

Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home is battling a COVID outbreak. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

“Their deaths are tragic. Our thoughts are with the families, loved ones and staff, as we continue to battle COVID-19 in long-term care… This pandemic is just not over.”

As of Thursday, there were as many as nine personal care homes in Winnipeg, and a similar number across the province, battling outbreaks of COVID-19.

The impacted care homes in Winnipeg listed on the province’s website are: Bethania, Calvary Place, Golden Links Lodge, Middlechurch, River Park Gardens, Pembina Place, and Tuxedo Villa.

(One facility on the government list, Convalescent Home of Winnipeg, told the Free Press it is not currently dealing with an outbreak.)

The private websites for both Holy Family Home and Actionmarguerite St. Vital verify those Winnipeg facilities are battling outbreaks.

Outside the city, the list included: Ochekwi Sipi Cree Nation PCH (Fisher River), Whitemouth PCH (Whitemouth), Nisichawayasihk PCH (Nelson House), Northern Spirit Lodge (Thompson), Dr. Gendreau, Fairview and Revera Valleyview (Brandon), Westview Lodge (Boissevain), and Eastview Place.

Holy Family chief executive officer Tara-Lee Procter said in a March 23 letter that two residents had tested positive in one unit, leading to the suspension of visitors to that space.

A letter the same day from Micheline St-Hilaire, Actionmarguerite CEO, said one resident had died during the outbreak, while there were four active cases among residents, eight staff who had tested positive and recovered, and 28 residents who had recovered.

River Park Gardens is operated by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. On Thursday, Bobbi-Jo Stanley, WRHA senior communications specialist, said it can’t publicly comment on the resident’s recent death “due to patient privacy legislation.”

The Holy Family Home's website says it is battling a COVID outbreak. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“Based on the most recent update, there have been a total of 10 cases and one death since March 4 for the current outbreak at River Park Gardens,” she said. “As for mitigation measures, once an outbreak was declared, River Park Gardens implemented all procedures for management of an outbreak.”

A statement from Southern Health didn’t mention the woman’s death at Eastview Place, but said it has had 19 cases with recoveries so far.

“All COVID precautions are in place at the personal care home to contain the virus, and staff are doing their part in ensuring each resident remains well, with much attention to the psycho-social needs of all in their care,” the statement said.

“Staffing resources from our Southern Health-Santé Sud community programs have volunteered to support the care of the residents at the site, along with the support of designated family care providers.”

Gary Ledoux, Bethania CEO, said the Winnipeg care home has been dealing with positive cases for awhile.

“Since mid-February, we have had 32 positive cases among residents, and 14 have recovered,” Ledoux said.

“In (the) past week, we have had a few positives and many more negative test results. We are expecting future tests to be negative as the unit restrictions should prevent further infections… the virus is so contagious and transmissible.”

Bethania residents have had to stay in their own units for up to 12 days, including eating there instead of the facility’s large dining room. Ledoux said about 98 per cent of residents have received three doses of the vaccine.

“As well, all visitors, including designated family caregivers, have to be fully vaccinated. Some are not happy, they say the province says you don’t have to, but we’re doing this to protect people here,” he said, adding unvaccinated people can still visit residents in a designated area with a separate exterior entrance.

Actionmarguerite in Winnipeg is one of several personal care homes in Winnipeg battling new COVID outbreaks. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files)

Despite Convalescent Home’s incorrect inclusion on the government list, development co-ordinator Sherry Heppner said, the facility has been allowing families and friends to visit, without having to schedule visits, since March 7.

“(This) was a huge step for us,” Heppner said Thursday, adding visitors do have to wear masks, be screened at the entrance, and follow hand hygiene practices.

“These precautions will continue for the foreseeable future. We all can’t wait for much better weather to arrive, allowing us to have outdoor visits in our courtyard.

“It has been a long, long winter.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.


Updated on Thursday, March 24, 2022 8:00 PM CDT: Corrects and replaces photo to reflect the outbreak is at Actionmarguerite St. Vital.

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