Au Chateau outbreak slowing but staffing challenges continue


Forty residents and about two dozen staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in the ongoing outbreak at the Au Chateau Home for the Aged that was first declared on Jan. 21.

Two residents that were COVID-positive died on Feb. 14, but director Jacques Dupuis says the virus was not the cause in either case. Almost all residents are vaccinated and boosted, so most have been experiencing mild to no symptoms throughout this outbreak. 

“This is part of long-term care, unfortunately throughout the year, residents will pass. That’s normal. Some of them pass for different reasons, these two in particular happened to have COVID, but COVID was not the primary cause of death,” said Dupuis, who couldn’t get into specifics citing privacy reasons.

Regardless of the primary cause, those residents are included in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s deaths due to COVID-19 statistics, now up to 19, seven of which have come in the last month. As of Feb. 15, there are four people in the region hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Dupuis said that the spread seems to be slowing down in the home after there was only one new positive case over the weekend. The week prior was rough though: the Omicron variant spread to the third and first floors of the home. The third floor is already self-contained because it’s home to residents with dementia, meaning they can’t isolate those people in the building’s COVID area.

The biggest challenge the home continues to face in this outbreak is the impact on staffing levels. Dupuis said so far, 43 employees have been whitelisted: meaning they either tested positive, are living with someone who tested positive or have COVID-19 symptoms. The home continues to reach out to agencies about bringing in PSWs from down south to help out, but they haven’t had much luck.

“Even they were having difficulty supplying staff,” noted Dupuis. “Many of the long-term care homes are in the same boat we are, so to have access to a pool from down south is very difficult. We’re still trying to do that, we’re quite hopeful, we’ve managed since then.” 

Part of Au Chateau’s management strategy has been allowing workers who test positive but aren’t showing symptoms to return to work before their 10-day period is up, and then just keeping those employees stationed in the home’s COVID area.

“If a staff has tested positive for COVID-19, we were able to bring them into the COVID area where the residents have tested positive because there was no risk of exposure either way,” explained Dupuis.

The home hasn’t reached a critical shortage of workers yet, but he is hoping to get some more outside help for the next few weekends. 

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