From anxiety to joy, HDGH CEO says 'the worst is over' at Windsor seniors' home with major outbreak

·3 min read

It was a "moment of happiness" for Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare's CEO Janice Kaffer administering her first vaccines on Sunday to residents of The Village at St. Clair.

The Windsor long-term care home experienced the region's worst COVID-19 outbreak — with 151 resident cases and 106 staff cases reported as of Sunday.

In an effort to contain the virus, staff from the hospital were deployed, entering the home on Dec. 24, to provide assistance.

Kaffer said the mood in the home on Sunday was much different compared to her first visit a few weeks ago.

"I think everyone was pretty anxious. They were facing a fairly significant journey. It was painful for everyone that was involved and I think people staff were scared. Residents were scared. Family members were scared," she said looking back.

In contrast, Kaffer said Sunday's mood was "relief, jubilation and joy."

She said the last 10 months have been difficult for health-care workers, but "those of us that were administering the vaccines, there was a high degree of satisfaction that we were doing something important."

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

"I think all of us in health-care have been experiencing an awful lot of difficult times and a lot of worry, a lot of anxiety, a lot of big decisions to make and a lot of stress and not a lot of joy and not a lot of absolute certainty that what we are doing is going to make a significant difference in the life of someone," Kaffer said.

"Giving someone who is frail and vulnerable a vaccination, being able to help the home to turn around and be part of that turnaround of the outbreak, I think for myself and our team, it has been extremely satisfying," she said. "I can only imagine how the families of the residents felt knowing that their loved one had the first of the two shots."

Kaffer said 81 residents of the home that were qualified — who either tested negative or have a resolved case and gave consent — were vaccinated.

"There are ... a small number of individuals who don't want to get the vaccine. I really have no idea why, to be honest with you, because I haven't been having those conversations with the residents or their families that's been done by the home. but I suspect there could be a range of personal reasons for it," she said.

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

The whole process took less than two hours, she said, adding that most staff and caregivers got vaccinated on Sunday by public health, but some still need to get their vaccine on Monday and Tuesday.

Kaffer said conditions in the home have improved greatly and she has "a high degree of confidence that the worst is over."

She said she looks forward to going back to her regular space in the hospital on Monday, adding that Schlegel Villages, which owns the home, will take over operations again by the end of the week and no longer have onsite support from Hotel Dieu Grace, unless needed.

Instead, she said staff will be redeployed to Augustine Villas in Kingsville, which is also experiencing an outbreak, to assist with vaccinations.