Public health issues orders against three seniors’ homes with COVID-19 outbreaks

·3 min read

Public health says it has found infection control breaches at three seniors’ homes in Hamilton currently in outbreak, and issued compliance orders after recent assessments.

Blackadar Continuing Care Centre, Villa Italia Retirement Residence and St. Elizabeth’s Retirement Residence were all issued orders for “fail(ing) to take or to refrain from taking any action that is specified in the order in respect of a communicable disease.” The orders are issued under Section 22 of the province’s Health Protection and Promotion Act.

At Blackadar Continuing Care Centre in Dundas, public health performed an assessment on Jan. 7, which found: inadequate staff training on the use and “reprocessing” of PPE; inadequate auditing of hand hygiene, PPE, and cleaning; inadequate plan for enhanced cleaning; inadequate resident screening twice daily; and inadequate practices for resident physical distancing.

Public health issued the order on Jan. 8. The facility has been in outbreak since Jan. 3 and had eight cases and one death. No new cases or deaths were reported at the home by the city on Monday.

Public health completed an inspection at Villa Italia Retirement Residence on Dec. 31. It found: inadequate staff training on the use of PPE, specifically a lack of eye protection; inadequate training on donning and doffing PPE, including for agency staff; inadequate hand hygiene and an absence of auditing hand hygiene; inadequate plan for enhanced cleaning; inadequate training on using disinfectant; inadequate signage at the entry to area(s) with cases; inadequate signage for hand hygiene reminders.

Public health issued the order on Jan. 3. The west Hamilton Mountain home has 27 cases and one death in the outbreak since Dec. 23. That’s four new cases as of Jan. 10 at 3 p.m.

A public health assessment on Dec. 28 at St. Elizabeth’s Retirement Residence found: inadequate staff training on the use and “reprocessing” of PPE “which would prevent staff from safely providing appropriate care to ill residents”; inadequate training on donning and doffing PPE; inadequate hand hygiene and an absence of hand hygiene auditing; inadequate plan for enhanced cleaning; inadequate training on using disinfectant; and concerns about PPE supplies and storage, hand hygiene, cleaning, and staffing shortages discussed in an outbreak meeting the day of the assessment.

The home on the southwest Mountain has 50 cases and four deaths since the outbreak was declared Dec. 25. The home was given the order on Dec. 29. The home did not report any new cases or deaths on Monday.

The Spectator has reached out to the homes about the orders. Blackadar has told The Spectator they are preparing a response. Homes may appeal the order by requesting a hearing in within 15 days of being served.

“Several of our premises continue to have challenges when it comes to infection prevention and control,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson in a media briefing. The medical officer of health noted the problems are in part due to “extraordinarily tight” staffing shortages broadly, which, combined with a large number of outbreaks, pose “a significant challenge.”

She repeated that the outbreaks reflect transmission in the community.

“If we get our numbers down, we can get the numbers of those outbreaks down,” she said. “We’re hopeful too that the vaccination programs will make a difference.”

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator