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COVID-19 continues to ravage Simcoe Manor in large scale outbreak

October 22, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Simcoe Manor, with a total of 40 residents and 28 staff confirmed to have the virus.

While nearly half of the positive resident cases are asymptomatic, the long-term care home has lost seven people who tested positive since the outbreak began on October 2.

Simcoe Manor is operated by the County of Simcoe, but the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has been assisting since the outbreak started and recently brought in Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) to manage the nursing home.

Area paramedics and Stevenson Memorial Hospital has also leant support where possible.

“I would really like to commend the efforts by multiple agencies to come together to assist with this outbreak. It is a serious outbreak and…our largest outbreak by far,” said SMDHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner.

The 28 staff members who tested positive for COVID are a large reason why Simcoe Manor has needed additional resources and support.

Residents have been cohorted, so staff are limited to work in one location within Simcoe Manor to reduce further transmission of COVID-19.

“With movement, there’s the potential to move infection from one location to another, so a classic strategy in dealing with that is to cohort,” Dr. Garnder noted.

An Alliston resident who’s a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at Simcoe Manor said RVH taking over control of the home has been a great benefit to the staff.

“It’s being run much more, how you would see in a hospital, the PPE is much more supplied and we are much more stocked with it and it’s more disposable,” said the PSW. “They’ve really taken control with just how we’re cleaning and there’s much more cleaning going on and it’s really nice to see.

“I’ve noticed there’s just been much more sharing of responsibilities among staff, so that the cohorting staff that’s taking care of the sick patients can just focus on taking care of those patients and there’s no crossing over with the residents who aren’t affected.”

As a PSW who’s worked in Simcoe Manor for a few years, it’s difficult to see so many residents passing away at a rapid rate, she told The Times.

“For myself, and I know some of my other colleagues, we’re used to dealing with death more as an eventuality, not as our main focus… We are used to it but not so close together, so clumped, one right after the other like that in a short amount of time,” she said. “It’s almost like you don’t really get to grieve the loss of one and then another one has happened or is going to happen.”

In terms of the residents, the PSW at Simcoe Manor noted that they’ve been “amazingly patient” and are holding up pretty well through the outbreak and pandemic as a whole but are starting to feel the effects of isolation.

“I just can’t imagine not being able to see your family on the level that they are at,” she said. “They’re starting to feel the effects of the isolation and just the changes of everything… there’s of course a change in the mood in the nursing home because people can’t gather together for the same type of activities and things anymore.

“It doesn’t feel like the same ‘happy happy’ environment as before of the day to day, it feels like more of an institutional environment now but with good reason.”

As difficult as the job may feel right now, the particular outbreak and pandemic as a whole won’t last forever, the PSW told the Times.

“There’s comfort in that and I know one day everything will get back to normal,” she said.

“I’m really grateful to New Tecumseth and all the citizens of New Tecumseth for being so patient with us at Simcoe Manor.”

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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