By Chad Ingram
Seven residents of the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon have died of complications related to COVID-19 and more than 20 of the home’s staff have tested positive for the virus making it the worst outbreak in the province.
As of the afternoon of March 30 the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit confirmed that seven of some 65 residents at the facility had died of the coronavirus. An additional two deaths have occurred there since an outbreak was declared March 18 but the health unit says those two deaths were not related to COVID-19.
The outbreak was declared after three residents tested positive for the virus however in line with provincial rules no other residents were tested.
“In following our provincial outbreak guidelines we did not do any additional tests on residents as we already had confirmation the virus was in the home” Dr. Lynn Noseworthy medical officer of health for the HKPR Health Unit said in a press release.
As of Friday at least 35 residents of Pinecrest were displaying symptoms of the virus which can have the most lethal effects in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Additionally as of March 30 24 employees of the nursing home had tested positive for COVID-19 with test results for another 10 pending.
“Once the initial respiratory outbreak was declared staff at Pinecrest followed all proper procedures to help contain the spread of the virus” the release reads. “Ill staff did not come to work arrangements were made to have them tested and they were advised to self-isolate at home; residents were isolated as best they could be in the smaller facility; group activities were stopped; and meals were served to residents on trays rather than in the dining room.”
The nursing home has been closed to visitors since March 14 to all but “compassionate visits” which typically mean people going to visit a relative at the end of their life.
“This is truly a horrible time for the families and friends of the residents as well as our staff” Mary Carr administrator of the Pinecrest Nursing Home said in the release. “We have a number of medically fragile and vulnerable people living in our home; our residents are like family to our staff. Our sympathies go out to all of the families and friends of the people we have lost.”
“This outbreak of COVID-19 is currently the largest outbreak in the province” Noseworthy said “and really brings home how devastating and deadly this virus can be for older people in our communities. I am asking everyone to do everything they can to stop the spread of this virus – if not to protect yourself but to protect others who need our care.”
Anyone who is feeling ill is encouraged to self-isolate and everyone is asked to practice physical distancing – staying at least two metres from one another – and regular and thorough hand-washing. Anyone over the age of 70 and anyone with a compromised immune system is also encouraged to self-isolate at home.
As of the afternoon of March 30 there were 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the jurisdiction of the HKPR Health Unit that jurisdiction including Haliburton County Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Of those cases 33 have been confirmed within the City of Kawartha Lakes eight in Northumberland and none within the County of Haliburton. There had been a total of nine COVID-19-related deaths in the jurisdiction – seven at Pinecrest itself and two others within the City of Kawartha Lakes with one of those two deaths associated with visiting the Pinecrest Nursing Home.