Sixth COVID-related death at Sarnia's Vision Nursing Home

Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia. File photo/Postmedia Network

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Another resident at Sarnia’s Vision Nursing Home has died from COVID-19, Sarnia-Lambton public health confirmed late Sunday, while its ongoing outbreak is now the area’s largest since the pandemic began.

The death – Sarnia-Lambton’s 21st and the sixth at Vision – was reported along with one more confirmed case of COVID-19 at the home, bringing the area’s total confirmed cases to 248.

Another two people also recovered, bringing that total to 177.

Infection prevention and control experts from Sarnia’s hospital and the health unit have been at Vision for days trying to help control the outbreak, officials said.

“Just the longevity of this outbreak, we’re wanting to make sure that the things we’ve recommended are things that they’ve been able to do – that they’re able to train their staff appropriatly and that everybody is following the basic guidance,” said medical officer of health Sudit Ranade about public health’s increased involvement.

Vision now has 21 residents and 20 staff infected with the potentially fatal virus, eclipsing a now-resolved outbreak at Landmark Village retirement home where 30 residents and 10 staff tested positive.

The outbreak at Vision began April 23.

“It’s just a little bit of additional support in recognition of the fact that this outbreak has lasted a while,” Ranade said.

Vision previously invited Bluewater Health’s infection protection and control specialist in as a “second set of eyes” to review the steps being taken to fight the outbreak, Vision CEO Heather Martin has said.

Dietary, nursing and housekeeping staff from Bluewater Health have volunteered to help.

Vision staff, meanwhile, have been living on site and isolating from others so they can take care of the sick patients.

Everyone has been working as a team, including staff at Vision who have “been great,” said Bluewater Health’s Julia Oosterman.

Vision is one of three remaining institutional outbreaks currently in Sarnia-Lambton.

Marshall Gowland Manor nursing home in Sarnia still has one resident who is positive while Village on the St. Clair retirement home in Sarnia reports two ill residents.

An announcement by Premier Doug Ford Sunday meanwhile that testing will be available for all, regardless of whether people are symptomatic, has public health talking about how to implement that locally, Ranade said.

“Those discussions are going to have to happen today and in an ongoing fashion,” he said Monday. “I think the assessment centre will have to ramp up to figure out how they can do that.”

Assessment centres in Sarnia and Petrolia provide testing by referral via primary-care practitioners and others. They are not walk-in clinics, Ranade said.

“What we don’t want is large numbers of people congregating for a test because that would defeat the purpose of trying to stop the spread of the disease,” he said, noting the priority is still testing symptomatic people while not exposing people who may be well to people who are sick at testing sites.

“We’re going to have to figure out how do we do that and keep them separate from each other,” he said.

Whether the capability exists to test everyone who makes a request remains to be seen, Ranade said.

“We’ll have to see how that goes based on what the demand looks like.”

As of Sunday night 5,759 COVID-19 test results had been received in Sarnia-Lambton, with 96 per cent returning negative.

Bluewater Health Monday morning reported four patients in hospital with confirmed COVID-19 and another 18 awaiting testing.

“While the numbers are down, we do know that COVID’s still out there,” Oosterman said. “We’re not out of the woods.”

The relatively large number awaiting test results – fewer than 10 were waiting Saturday – is a function of more testing, she said.

“It’s not that there’s more people who are necessarily coming into the hospital, it’s just that we’re testing more people.”