Simcoe Muskoka long-term care homes ordered to restrict general visitors, stop short-stay and temporary outings under Section 22 class order
A class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act has been issued by Simcoe Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH) to immediately restrict all indoor visits at long-term care homes to one essential visitor at a time and suspend general visiting to protect the vulnerable elderly residents from COVID-19 transmission.
The order applies to all long-term care homes in Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka but does not apply to retirement homes or other congregate care settings. However, the health unit continues to monitor the situation for possible further action.
The order also directs that residents are not to leave the facilities for short-stay or temporary absences except for those required for healthcare. Outdoor onsite visits continue to be permitted with two metre distancing precautions.
“The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise in Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario and residents of long-term care homes are so vulnerable because of their age, their care needs and the closed nature of the homes that can facilitate the spread of COVID-19,” said MOH Dr. Charles Gardner. “This order is intended to decrease the risk, and to protect our elderly residents and the staff caring for them.”
The order identifies essential visitors as a person who is not a member of the facility’s staff but is performing essential support services such as healthcare or maintenance; a person visiting a very ill or palliative resident; or a caregiver designated by the resident or their substitute decision maker who comes in to provide direct care and support to the resident.
This ensures that a family member or designate who comes in to help a resident with their meals, personal hygiene, mental stimulation, communications or other needs will not be prevented from visiting. A maximum of two caregivers may be designated as essential for a resident at this time.
“We are seeking to strike a balance to address both the physical danger of contracting COVID-19 and the importance of addressing the mental health needs of residents living in these care settings,” added Dr. Gardner, “and while they are restrictive they reflect the immediate and serious danger posed by the growing number of cases.”
Recent weeks have seen significant and continually increasing incidence of COVID-19. In Simcoe Muskoka, the incidence has increased to 24.1 cases/100,000 persons for the week of October 25th from an estimated 5.4 cases /100,000 persons for the week of September 6th, 2020.
Detailed information about the order is posted on the health unit website under its COVID-19 pages. The pages also provide information to stop the spread of COVID including the self-screening tool, information for parents of school-aged children and a link to our HealthSTATS pages where daily cases counts, outbreaks and epidemiological summaries can be found. Residents can also call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520).
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