Barry’s Bay – Valley Manor has been hard hit by the latest variant of COVID-19 with six deaths at the small long-term care facility since the outbreak began on July 18.
“This is an example of why we have such strict regulations,” CEO Trisha DesLaurier said. “It went through the building so fast.”
She confirmed on Tuesday there were six deaths, and 42 residents were infected, as well as 27 staff.
“It has been a very challenging time,” she said.
When the outbreak began several weeks ago, staff became ill and were sent home and then the back-up staff also became ill, so this created tremendous staffing pressure, she noted.
Ms. DesLaurier said although the Manor has had other COVID outbreaks since the pandemic began in March 2020, none have been like this one.
“This is the first time of this size,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of small ones, maybe two or three, we managed to contain.”
The manor was hit with the virus during this wave in July where Omicron and the BA.5 variant were prevalent.
“The new variant is extremely contagious,” she said.
Fortunately, it appears the outbreak may soon be declared over.
“We are on the uphill,” she said. “We haven’t had a case identified since July 31.”
If this continues to be the case, the outbreak will be declared over this week, she added.
“If there is no outbreak, the residents can come back to the dining room, activities will resume and visits will resume,” she said.
The staff and administration are very keenly aware of the effect of the isolation on the residents, she said.
“We are so concerned about the residents when they are isolated,” she said. “It is a celebration when they come out.”
The severity of this outbreak reinforces the need for strict protocols when visiting long-term care, she stressed. It shows vigilance is required, even at a time when people believe the pandemic is nearing the end, she noted.
“We went through two-and-a-half years doing this and when we thought we were looking in the rear-view mirror this happened,” she said.
The community has been extremely supportive, and Ms. DesLaurier said she is very grateful.
On Tuesday operations managers from the Red Cross were on site to prepare a team which will come in to support Valley Manor by providing assistance in staff, infection control, relief for staff who are burned out and also providing emotional support for both residents and staff.
Kathy Marion, the chair of the board at Valley Manor, said the outbreak has put a tremendous strain on everyone at the facility.
“The staff, residents and families came through two-and-a-half years without any cases and then all of a sudden . . . and at a time when everyone is really stressed out.
“It’s a tense situation,” she added. “But I think things are improving.”
Health Unit Reports Outbreak
The Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) reported the outbreak with three deaths initially.
“The outbreak has resulted in numerous staff and resident infections and RCDHU is currently investigating three deaths that are suspected to be associated with the outbreak,” the RCDHU release stated. “The leadership team at Valley Manor, RCDHU, Renfrew County Paramedics, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, St. Francis Memorial Hospital, and other community partners are working together to assist the facility to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of staff, residents, and the community.”
It went on to note Valley Manor was currently seeking support from any residents of Renfrew County and District who are willing to volunteer their time to assist the staff of Valley Manor in supporting their residents.
“If you know anyone who would be willing to help support the staff at Valley Manor as they continue to battle this current outbreak, please contact Stacey McDonald at 613-633- 8112,” the release concluded.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader