There are over 36 cases associated with a COVID outbreak at the Au Chateau Home for the Aged, causing the home to look for help from down south to keep their staff from burning out.
The outbreak was declared on Jan. 21 when seven patients and several staff tested positive. As of Feb. 1, nine more residents tested positive to bring the total to 36.
“From a resident perspective, their symptoms are really mild: stuffy noses, sore throat, that’s basically it,” says director Jacques Dupuis. “All the residents have been fully vaccinated, three doses… no residents affected tremendously. The same with staff: they’re not terribly sick for those that have COVID or are living with someone who has it, but they can’t come into work, so that’s a pressure on the system.”
The COVID outbreak in the home has so far been contained to the second floor. But now with so many residents in isolation, it limits the flexibility of staff: they can only interact with COVID positive residents or the negative ones, but not both. With some staff having to stay away for 10 days due to positives associated with this outbreak and others coming into contact with the virus in the community, there are limited employees available. There’s also no nearby relief available, prompting the home to explore options elsewhere.
“We’ve tried agencies everywhere. Right now, locally (between North Bay and Sudbury) there’s no staff available. Now we’re getting into a situation where staff have worked doubles and they’re getting tired and they need relief, so we’re contemplating bringing in PSWs from down south and helping us out here for the next two weeks or so. That comes at a significant cost but cost is not an issue now, it’s resident care that’s the issue, so we’re going to look at that.”
This was the second outbreak declared at Au Chateau in the last three months, but the first time the Omicron variant has been the cause. When there was a COVID case discovered through regular testing back on Nov. 15, they were able to limit the spread to just two people.
“In that particular case, it was not one that spread quickly, and we isolated the resident and caregiver right away,” explains Dupuis. “This Omicron spreads so quickly, your guards are down for one second and you get it. It’s as quick as that.”
Dupuis says some relief will be available as staff that tested positive during the initial outbreak will soon complete the required 10-day isolation and be able to return to work. But with the situation still fluid, he’s reminding people that public health measures matter.
“The bottom line is this; I truly understand that people are COVID fatigued. I understand that the community may think opening is the right thing to do and perhaps it is, I don’t disagree with it,” says Dupuis. “But what it does, and what they don’t see is the impact on the health system. Once the health system starts feeling it, that’s when you realize the importance of continuing the community precautions, continuing to wear a mask, continuing limiting your social visits. I can’t stress that enough because we’re feeling it.”
COVID outbreak at West Nipissing General Hospital
The West Nipissing General Hospital declared their first COVID outbreak of the pandemic last week, but the spread has been contained to a small number of people.
As of Feb. 1, the outbreak is impacting four patients and one staff member, all in the hospital’s Nursing Care Unit.