Update: As of Thursday morning, there were no outbreaks of COVID-19 in Niagara-on-the-
Lake long-term care facilities.
Last Tuesday, the Niagara Region website reported an outbreak of an unspecified respiratory illness at Niagara Long Term Care, formerly Chartwell. It hadn’t been identified as COVID-19 — the organism causing the outbreak was unknown when the outbreak was declared.
The nature of the outbreak was declared Saturday to be a parainfluenza virus, also a respiratory illness, with similar symptoms to COVID-19.
During the pandemic, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she and town staff are in regular contact with the three local facilities, to ask if they need anything at all, and to find out what’s happening in their facilities.
“So far they have the PPE (personal protective equipment) they need, and they’re all fairing quite well under the circumstances we’re in,” she said.
Disero and Fire Chief Nick Ruller released a video Thursday talking about the three NOTL homes, and the process followed when there is an outbreak of any illness. Their intention was to alleviate any concern in the community about the outbreak at Niagara Long Term Care.
“To this minute, to this date,” said Disero Thursday, “all is well in these facilities,” but should the outbreak be upgraded to COVID-19, there would be a message to the public to let them know.
“We are blessed in Niagara-on-the-Lake to have three excellent long-term care facilities,” said Disero, which she described as self-contained communities that are also a large part of the wider community.
She thanked the staff in the homes, who are “the faces the patients and residents see every day,” while they are isolated from their family and the rest of the community.
The staff are also the voices of those patients and residents to the community, she added, and are risking their lives daily to help those who are most vulnerable.
Disero and Ruller outlined the process of declaring outbreaks at long-term care facilities, saying the regional reporting is ongoing, and not limited to this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although these outbreaks are concerning to the public, they could happen six to 12 times a year, said Ruller.
Notification is important to first responders, so they can adjust their level of PPE if they enter one of the facilities with an outbreak, he explained.
As of Thursday afternoon, the regional website showed cases of COVID-19 in the St. Catharines Hospital site, and in four long-term care homes in, Lincoln, Welland and Niagara Falls.
There were 405 reported cases in the region as of Tuesday, with 34 deaths.