A quarter of Grace Villa residents have died; Shalom Village introduces new contact tracing method

·4 min read

More than a quarter of Grace Villa’s residents have died in its outbreak, while the home says most of its staff are returning to work.

The Lockton Crescent home on the east Mountain has had 231 COVID-19 cases and 42 deaths since the outbreak began Nov. 25. The deaths account for roughly 27 per cent of the 156 residents living in the home as of the day the outbreak was declared, according to numbers previously provided by CEO Mary Raithby of APANS Health Services.

“The outbreak at Grace Villa has had tragic and devastating impacts for residents, their families and our staff,” said Raithby in an email on Wednesday. “Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to all residents, families and staff members for the loss and hardship they have endured.”

The city did not report any new cases at Grace Villa on Wednesday. To date, there have been 143 resident cases, 86 staff cases, and two visitor cases at the home.

Raithby did not provide active case numbers when asked by The Spectator. The province continues to report 37 active cases at the home — 30 resident and seven staff cases — but provincial numbers tend not to be current and have been inaccurate in the past.

Asked about the number and types of beds at Grace Villa, Raithby said, “Our priority continues to be protecting our residents and staff, and we continue to follow all expert guidance and recommendations to do so. This includes following ministry guidance on reducing the number of residents per room to two.”

Grace Villa has the biggest and deadliest outbreak in the city by far. Hamilton Health Sciences took over the home’s management as of Dec. 16 for 90 days.

The second-biggest outbreak is at Shalom Village, with 184 cases and 19 deaths since the outbreak began on Dec. 9. According to an update on the home’s website on Jan. 1, more than 200 residents live at the facility, including in the long-term care, assisted living and convalescent care apartments. It is unknown exactly how many residents lived at the Macklin Street home in Westdale when the outbreak began.

To date, Shalom Village has had 184 cases, including 100 resident cases, 81 staff cases and three visitor cases. The latest active case numbers reported by the home was 53 on Tuesday. That includes 15 staff cases, 31 resident cases, three essential caregivers and four “individuals” who are in hospital.

Up until Monday, the home provided daily updates on case counts and deaths on its website. As of yesterday, however, the home announced it would provide updates three times a week to reduce “discrepancies.”

“Our daily COVID reporting is a collaborative effort,” wrote the home’s CEO Ken Callaghan in the update. “This relies heavily on public health to both verify and classify data. Due to varying schedules, timelines and staffing, this can result in discrepancies.”

Callaghan said the change was to allow the home to provide “the most accurate data, in a timely manner.”

In a town hall on Tuesday, Callaghan mentioned Shalom launched its own contact tracing process led by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton this week.

“(Contact tracing) has been worked on externally previous to this by public health, but a number of the St. Joe’s staff have been looking at these processes internally and it will continue to be a focus on the team while we continue to get positives occurring.”

The home, which is being managed by St. Joe’s, did not provide details when reached Wednesday.

“This process is relatively new and we’re finalizing,” said spokesperson Laurie Pringle in an email. “Once all the partners have worked through it, I’m sure either St. Joe’s or someone from Shalom Village will be in a position to elaborate.”

Both Shalom Village and Grace Villa have said that they don’t need further help to control the outbreaks, including from the Red Cross.

“Any external assistance would be guided by instruction from public health,” Pringle said when asked at what point the home would seek further help. She added Shalom Village’s “partnership with St. Joseph’s and public health is working very well.”

Raithby said at Grace Villa “many” staff are returning to work.

“We continue to work collaboratively with our partners to provide excellent care for our residents and manage this outbreak,” she wrote. “The home and residents continue to be very well supported, thanks to the dedication, hard work and expertise of our team, agency and HHS staff.”

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator