Maimonides shuts down crowded hot zone, transfers COVID-19 patients to hospitals

The Maimonides Geriatric Centre is transferring dozens of patients with COVID-19 to local hospitals in an effort to contain an outbreak that has already killed 10 people.

The facility decided Saturday to move 30 coronavirus patients offsite, with more severe cases going to the Jewish General Hospital and less severe cases to Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal.

The regional health authority in charge of Maimonides said in a statement that crowding in the ward where COVID-19 patients are treated — the so-called “hot zone” — contributed to the spread of the disease inside the facility.

“We have decided that the best way to break the cycle of infection is to temporarily close our hot zone,” the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal said in a letter to families of residents.

“We hope that this decision will allow us to stop the outbreak more quickly because it will reduce opportunities of exposure to the virus. This strategy was used with success in other countries.”

The letter also specified that orderlies and nurses from the facility will accompany the infected residents to hospital.

Concerns about staffing levels

The decision to move COVID-19 patients offsite was welcomed by families of residents at Maimonides who don’t have the virus. But some are also worried the remaining staff members will have difficulty managing further outbreaks. 

“We need more help. There is no question,” said Joyce Shanks, whose father is a resident at Maimonides. “And now, with more staff leaving, we’re going to have an even bigger gap.”

Since the beginning of the second wave, 10 people have died of COVID-19 at Maimonides, according to the latest figures provided by the Quebec government. The 30 residents with COVID-19 represents 12 per cent of the facility’s population.

Last week, a staff member at Maimonides told CBC Montreal that nurses were being instructed to work in both hot zones and non-COVID wards (“cold zones”). 

The provincial government has tried to limit the number of health care staff who work in both hot zones and cold zones as the practise was blamed for hundreds of deadly outbreaks in long-term care homes this spring.

Regional health officials denied the nurse’s allegation.

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