Eight residents at a Stratford retirement home, including four this past weekend, have died since a COVID-19 outbreak was declared nearly three weeks ago, and just how the virus was introduced into the facility is anyone’s guess.
Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron-Perth’s medical officer of health, said she believes someone asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic entered the Cedarcroft Place building without knowing they were carrying the virus, which has spread rampantly throughout the home without the exact source being identified.
“Given the vulnerability in Cedarcroft, with many residents having comorbidities, it wouldn’t take a very big dose for someone to get sick,” Klassen said. “Then it can transmit quite easily among a closed population with elderly people with underlying conditions.
“We send our condolences to family and friends of these residents (who died over the weekend).”
Given the virus’ 14-day incubation period, Klassen said transmission was likely occurring before the first positive case on Oct. 27. Getting a handle on the outbreak has been more challenging given Cedarcroft’s staffing shortage, she said.
Eighteen staff (13 active) have contracted COVID-19, while 44 residents (34 active) have also tested positive.
“It was a combination of many things that has led to that kind of transmission,” Klassen said.
Throughout Huron-Perth, another 20 cases were added to the cumulative total over the weekend, bringing the current number of active cases to 72. Many are linked to Cedarcroft, and Klassen on Monday recommended retirement homes and long-term care facilities end general visits indoors and limit essential visits indoors to one person at a time as two measures to stop the virus’s spread.
Staff at Cedarcroft were being tested Monday for a third time, the same day the region moved into the province’s yellow protect level. Klassen said it will last for at least two weeks, and probably longer, and warned of further measures imposed if the situation doesn’t improve in the near future.
“We’re not surprised given the increase in cases we’ve been experiencing,” she said.
More than 10 residents – some who have tested positive for COVID-19 – have been moved to area hospitals. Since Saturday, at least two physicians have been working alongside local health officials and All Seniors Care Living Centres – the company that owns and operates Cedarcroft Place – assessing patients’ needs and determining whether those needs can continue to be met at the retirement home.
Andrew Williams, the CEO pf the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, the region’s hospital group, said the goal is to stabilize staffing at Cedarcroft, ensure all residents can be cared for, and contain the outbreak at the retirement home before residents can be transferred back.
“We are all united in wanting to achieve the best possible outcome for our residents,” added Lily Goodman, the All Seniors Care chief operating officer.
In addition to having infection-control and outbreak-management professionals at the home, Cedarcroft has also launched a 24/7 family hotline that will give residents’ family members an opportunity to have their questions answered and concerns addressed within an hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and within four hours overnight. To access the hotline, call Cedarcroft’s main line at 519-273-0030.
– With files from Galen Simmons
COVID-19 by the numbers: Huron and Perth counties
- 248 total confirmed cases;
- 72 active case;
- 166 recoveries;
- 13 deaths related to the coronavirus;
- One active retirement home outbreak
- One active long-term care outbreak
- 54 cases in Huron County
- 21 cases in North Perth,
- 37 cases in Perth East,
- Eight cases in Perth South,
- Seven cases in West Perth,
- Eight cases in St. Marys, and
- 113 cases in Stratford;