Seventeen city care homes deal with COVID outbreaks

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Nearly half of the long-term care homes in the Winnipeg health region were combating a COVID-19 outbreak on Wednesday.

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Nearly half of the long-term care homes in the Winnipeg health region were combating a COVID-19 outbreak on Wednesday.

There were 17 active outbreaks in city care homes, on top of outbreaks at local hospitals.

On Tuesday, family members of residents of Holy Family Home in North Point Douglas received a notice about the facility’s current COVID-19 outbreak.

Holy Family Home does not restrict which units fully vaccinated family caregivers can visit, regardless of whether there’s an outbreak in another part of the building. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The letter says 100 residents in seven of the campus’ units had tested positive for the virus. In addition, 38 staff members were COVID-19-positive and remained in isolation.

Updates posted to the Holy Family Home website show four of its residents died from COVID-19 infections between April 13 and April 22.

Holy Family Home does not restrict which units fully vaccinated family caregivers can visit, regardless of whether there’s an outbreak in another part of the building. However, general visitors are barred from entering the facility at this time.

The notice said fully vaccinated family caregivers would receive instruction from the facility’s nursing station on how to use personal protective equipment properly.

Holy Family did not respond to requests for comment.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spokesperson Bobbi-Jo Stanley said its infection-control staff provides support at all outbreak sites, including implementing prevention and control guidelines to limit the spread of the virus. If necessary, staff from other areas of the health region will be redeployed to care homes that need help managing an outbreak, Stanley said.

Jan Legeros, the executive director for the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, said the recent spike in COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes comes as no surprise given the end of public health orders in Manitoba. “We did expect to see outbreaks occur because we did expect there would be significant community spread, and all of that has come to fruition, unfortunately,” Legeros said.

Legeros believes COVID-19 outbreaks continue to pose a risk to long-term care residents in all Manitoba health regions. She estimates roughly half of all 125 long-term care homes provincewide are experiencing virus outbreaks.

The WRHA said an outbreak can be declared when “two or more residents, who are not roommates, do not share a bathroom between two resident rooms, or are not tablemates, acquire healthcare-associated infections on a unit within 10 days of each other.”

A facility may declare an outbreak over after 10 days with no new COVID-19 health care-associated infection cases after the last case isolated, the WRHA says.

While deaths from COVID-19 are still occurring in Manitoba’s care homes, outbreaks are, in general, not as lethal as in the past thanks to advancements in pandemic management, Legeros said.

“Since the first and second wave, of course, we’ve learned so much about COVID-19… Probably 98 per cent, or close to, of residents have been vaccinated, and they’re just receiving their fourth doses now,” Legeros said.

Roughly one-quarter of the long-term care homes in Manitoba require staff to be vaccinated, Legeros said.

The number of outbreaks at care homes varies and will continue to vary as COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community, Stanley said.

“We hope community members continue to take appropriate precautions, such as masking up, staying home when sick and getting vaccinated, to help limit the spread of COVID, including in personal care homes,” the WRHA spokesperson said.

On Wednesday, there were outbreaks in areas of Concordia, Grace, St. Boniface, Seven Oaks General and Victoria General hospitals, as well as the Health Sciences Centre and Misericordia Health Centre.

fpcity@freepress.mb.ca

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