The good news is that to date there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Fairvern Nursing Home in Huntsville.
Executive director for Fairvern, Carolyn Zacharuk, said the home has been well prepared for the pandemic as it started assessing and ordering supplies in late January.
She indicated via email correspondence that the home has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the ministry supply chain process is working well as supplies arrive within 24 hours of being requested.
Zacharuk said the administrative team reviews directives from the Ministry of Health and Public Health on a daily basis—seven days a week—and any changes are implemented “immediately”.
“Residents and staff have been cohorted by floor to minimize potential cross-contamination. Residents eat in separate areas to maintain social distancing,” said Zacharuk, adding that residents are also assessed for symptoms and their temperature is taken twice a day. Staff who work in the home are also being screened and their temperature is also being taken at the beginning and end of their shift.
“Our medical director and physicians continue to work closely with the administrative team to review ministry and public health directives to ensure that all bases are covered related to infection prevention and control within the home and the care needs of residents. There are two designated physicians who will attend at the home alternate weeks when requested by the resident’s physician. This also minimizes risk of cross contamination,” she noted.
All staff wear scrubs provided by Fairvern while at work. “These scrubs are laundered and returned to the home for staff use. This was put in place to minimize potential cross-contamination of the home (protect our residents) and for staff and their families,” she wrote in her email.
Staff are also wearing surgical/procedure masks when working and are permitted to remove the same only when on scheduled breaks. “All used masks are being placed in biohazardous bags and labeled with the date of use. We are awaiting a definitive decision by the ministry and the chief medical officer of health for Ontario regarding repurposing methods for these masks,” noted Zacharuk. “Physicians are also changing clothes after leaving other care sites before coming to Fairvern in concert with our directives to staff.”
Fairvern’s infection prevention and control (IPC) nurse has been made full time to ensure that all infection control processes are being monitored and followed, she added.
A communication plan has been implemented in compliance with ministry directives to give residents, families, and staff updates twice a week regarding activities in the home and processes being put in place to ensure resident care, as well as their wishes, are being addressed, said Zacharuk. “This involves twice weekly calls, emails to families and Facebook posts to update residents, families, staff and physicians of the current measures in place at the home. Responses to concerns or requests received from residents and/or families are responded to as a priority.”
Fairvern has also implemented a designated isolation area in a separate area of the home for the care of residents who may test positive for COVID-19. Should a resident test positive, and in consultation with the home’s medical director, family members will be allowed to visit one at a time for four-hour blocks, she explained.
Asked about testing, she said “residents in the home are tested for COVID-19 following ministry and public health directives. There are no residents or staff who have tested COVID-19 positive at this time.”
In a media briefing today, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, noted that under a provincial directive the health unit would be testing all residents and staff at the long-term care homes in its catchment area within the next two weeks.
In terms of staffing, Zacharuk indicated that part-time casual employees are being offered full-time hours during the pandemic. “Additional staff in all categories have been hired to free-up care staff to provide the level of care required by our residents, to ensure ‘high touch’ cleaning is conducted every two hours in the home and to screen all staff between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on entrance to and exit from the Home.”
Support from Fairvern residents, their families, staff, and the community at large has been “fabulous,” stated Zacharuk. When asked how the community can help the home get through these difficult times, she said cards with funny and/or encouraging statements for the residents and staff would be greatly appreciated. And as the weather improves, perennials for their gardens would brighten the residents’ days.
If you’d like to help but are unsure how to go about it, you can contact Mary at Mary.Woodruff@fairvern.ca or call her at 705-789-6011 extension 4339 if you are looking for ideas or have suggestions.
Zacharuk urged everyone to adhere to social distancing measures to protect themselves and others and encouraged everyone to “stay safe and stay healthy!”
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