Au Chateau outbreak nears end


Over the past few days, no new COVID cases have been detected at Au Chateau Home for the Aged, meaning their ongoing outbreak could be declared over by next week.

Since the outbreak was first declared on Jan. 21, 69 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Only one case was serious enough to require hospitalization, but director Jacques Dupuis says that resident has made a full recovery. 

There were also 10 residents who died in the home over that stretch. According to Dupuis, six of the deaths were cases where the residents were COVID positive, but the virus was not the primary cause of death and four of the passings were completely unrelated to the outbreak. 

“What I can say, overall things are improving tremendously,” says Dupuis. “Case counts are down significantly. In the past few days, we haven’t had any more cases and should we not get another case from today until Saturday, we’ll be coming out of outbreak on (March 7).” 

Now that the spread has slowed, the home is no longer operating at critical staffing levels. 

“Approximately 70 staff members either had COVID, lived with somebody who had COVID or had symptoms,” Dupuis tells the Tribune. “In all three cases, they missed 10 days of work.”

Dupuis says an agency in Sudbury was able to provide Au Château with some workers to help with staffing shortages during the outbreak. The home also explored bringing in additional staffing help from down south, but there was too much demand from other homes and healthcare settings.

Despite the stress that the last two years have placed on the healthcare sector, the home’s staffing levels are still looking good. Dupuis did lose “about 10 staff” who chose not to get vaccinated when the Au Château introduced its mandatory vaccination policy back in the fall, but the impact was “not significant” as the director notes several were casual workers. 

“We have not had any exodus of people leaving the home because there’s too much work or so forth,” he says. “I think we’ve weathered the storm and now we’re moving forward with a reasonable staff level and hopefully with new recruits coming in, over time in the next two to three years, we’re going to start seeing the effect of added staff to the profession.”

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