One dead in COVID-19 outbreak at Dunnville long-term care home

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One resident is dead as Grandview Lodge, a long-term care home in Dunnville, grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Grandview administrator Jennifer Jacob announced the death of a COVID-positive resident in an online update on Tuesday.

On Thursday, a health unit spokesperson told The Spectator that health officials had not yet determined whether the virus caused the resident’s death, adding any update would be reflected in the health unit’s weekly COVID-19 statistics report next Wednesday.

The outbreak in the Dunnville home’s Bridgeview unit was declared on Aug. 2. Eleven COVID-positive residents continue to isolate in their rooms, along with another symptomatic resident awaiting test results, and her roommate.

Only essential caregivers can visit the affected unit.

The health unit is monitoring 10 outbreaks in the two counties, including at a second long-term care home, a retirement home, four farms and three unspecified “congregate settings.”

As of Wednesday, 22 residents were in hospital because of COVID-19.

The outbreak at Grandview has not reached the Marshview unit, which has been without air conditioning since last week.

Jacob told The Spectator a faulty control board in the home’s “antiquated” HVAC system knocked out air conditioning for 32 residents and the dozen or so staff members who work in that unit.

Without air conditioning, rooms are between 23 C and 24 C, though with the humidity they can feel warmer, Jacob said.

Rooms are usually set to 22.5 C, which is the minimum temperature mandated by the province for long-term care homes.

Marshview residents are routinely checked for symptoms of heat-related illness “and we’re not seeing any,” Jacob said.

“Our residents are still wearing sweaters,” she added. “They’re usually cold, not hot. But our staff are definitely feeling it.”

Employees are “persevering” through “uncomfortable working conditions,” Jacob said, noting Marshview’s common spaces and nursing stations are covered by a different control board and the air conditioning is working in those areas.

“So we do have cooldown spaces available right there on that unit if anyone was too warm,” Jacob said.

A new control board has been ordered but will take six to eight weeks to arrive. That timeline has Jacob worried about being able to maintain the minimum room temperature once the weather cools.

“That’s why we’re moving ahead with the emergency purchase even though we know that we’re going to completely replace our HVAC,” she said.

In April 2021, Ottawa and the province jointly committed $3.2 million to modernize Grandview’s HVAC system, but Jacob said those upgrades are not expected to be completed until 2024.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator