COVID in long-term care: Outbreak at Hamilton’s Macassa Lodge, while Shalom Village deaths grow

·3 min read

Hamilton reported an outbreak in a city-run long-term-care home over the weekend, as cases and deaths in ongoing outbreaks steadily climbed.

Macassa Lodge is in outbreak as of Jan. 1, with two resident and three staff cases as of Jan. 3 at 3 p.m. The city’s general manager of healthy and safe communities said outside visitors will not be allowed in the home except “in very extreme circumstances.”

“Just like any other facility in the community, when it comes to the municipally run long-term-care facilities, we take our job very seriously,” said Paul Johnson during a media update on Monday. “We do know that this will be a very difficult time for those with loved ones who reside at Macassa Lodge.”

Most outbreaks in the city have occurred in for-profit homes, with the exception of Shalom Village.

Shalom Village reported two deaths over the long weekend, bringing its fatalities to 20 since the outbreak began. The not-for-profit home has now surpassed Chartwell Willowgrove for the city’s second-deadliest outbreak. The outbreak at Chartwell Willowgrove was declared over on Jan. 2.

The city, however, is reporting 15 deaths at Shalom as of Jan 3 at 3 p.m.

“The numbers that we have posted on the website is the information that has been made available to public health at this time,” said city spokesperson Jacqueline Durlov in an email.

According to the facility’s numbers from Jan. 3, there are 72 staff cases, as well as 95 cases in the assisted living and seniors’ apartments and long-term-care sections combined. Three visitors have tested positive, and four “individuals” are in hospital.

Grace Villa remains the worst outbreak with 228 cases and 38 deaths since the outbreak began on Nov. 25. No new cases or deaths were reported Monday.

There are currently 20 institutions in outbreak in the city. Growing outbreaks include St. Elizabeth Retirement Residence, which reported three new cases, for a total of 24 since the outbreak began on Dec. 25. The facility reported its first two deaths over the weekend.

Cases at Villa Italia Retirement Residence, which has been in outbreak since Dec. 23, rose sharply over the weekend. The home now has 19 cases, including 13 residents and six staff. The home has also reported one death.

A new outbreak was declared at Blackadar Continuing Care Centre on Jan. 3 with one staff case at the Dundas facility.

Meanwhile, the city’s medical officer of health expressed concern at Hamilton’s rising case counts.

“We are not showing signs of peaking or flattening out in Hamilton,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson. “We’re still very much on the steep part of the curve.”

She noted about 2,200 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered so far, with about 250 long-term-care workers being vaccinated per day, a number expected to rise to up to 500 later this week and more than 1,000 next week, Richardson said.

Two doses are required for the vaccine, and the second doses will begin to be administered to next week, Richardson said.

The Moderna vaccine, which is easier to transport, is not expected to arrive in Hamilton until the “next couple of weeks,” she added.

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator