No COVID-19 cases in Chatham-Kent's long-term care homes

Chatham-Kent has so far been spared the COVID-19 outbreaks that have ravaged many long-term care homes across the province.

COVID-19 testing at Chatham-Kent’s long-term care homes has produced 100-per-cent negative results. Pictured at Riverview Gardens long-term care home in Chatham are, from left: Chatham-Kent EMS general manager Donald MacLellan, Chatham-Kent general manager of community human services April Rietdyk, Chatham-Kent medical officer of health Dr. David Colby, and Chatham-Kent Health Alliance president and CEO Lori Marshall. Contributed Photo

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Chatham-Kent has so far been spared the COVID-19 outbreaks that have ravaged many long-term care homes across the province.

While residents in these homes account for more than 62 per cent of Ontario’s coronavirus deaths, there hasn’t been a single positive case in Chatham-Kent’s seven facilities.

“That’s a combination of very assiduous infection-control precautions and also some degree of luck, I would have to say,” Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, said during the board of health meeting Wednesday.

“But we were very quick to institute very comprehensive screening procedures, restriction of visitors, enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing and, probably most importantly, the inability of staff to move from one institution to another, which in other places has been shown to be a source of infection. This required some real imagination with regard to staffing these places.”

Nearly all residents and staff in Chatham-Kent’s long-term care homes have been tested as part of a provincial directive. The final results were released Wednesday.

Tests were completed on 765 residents and 926 staff members. Approximately 95 per cent of residents and 85 per cent of staff were tested.

Some residents weren’t tested because of their behaviour or lack of consent. Some staff were unavailable.

“As a community, Chatham-Kent has demonstrated time and time again the ability to work together towards a common goal,” April Rietdyk, Chatham-Kent’s general manager of community human services and public health CEO, said in a statement. “Keeping our community safe requires every one of us to do our part. Long-term care home staff are heroes and municipal staff are honoured to be part of helping them to keep their residents safe.”

Testing took place in Chatham-Kent from April 24 to May 13. It was a joint project between Chatham-Kent public health, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Chatham-Kent EMS and the municipality.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished thus far through this highly collaborative group of health-system partners,” hospital president and CEO Lori Marshall said in a statement. “The results of our swabbing blitz in long-term care homes truly proves that our public-health measures are making a difference.

“I’d like to thank our community for their commitment to following social-distancing measures and practising consistent hand hygiene. This has ensured our most vulnerable residents remain protected and our hospital resources are not overwhelmed.”

Across Ontario, 19 per cent of all COVID-19 cases – 4,518 of 23,774 – are long-term care home residents. Another 6.6 per cent, or 1,573 cases, are staff members.

There have been 1,962 deaths in Ontario, including 1,224 long-term care residents and four staff members.

“I’d like to thank our community paramedics who answered the call to help our partners carry out proactive testing for our most vulnerable populations,” Chatham-Kent EMS general manager Donald MacLellan said in a statement. “It’s been a team effort since the beginning to ensure our community remains healthy during this pandemic.”