Public Health Sudbury plans for ‘massive disease surveillance’ in long term care homes

Sudbury’s health unit says it’s going to start testing every resident and staff member at each long-term care home in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts.

“This testing is being done to gather a point-in-time picture of the situation in long-term care homes,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health with Public Health Sudbury and Districts, in a release.

“The volume of tests that will be done is huge, and risk assessments of the homes will set priority levels for each to determine schedules for testing.”

She said test results will help them to better understand the presence of COVID-19 infections and plan for the future.

All residents and staff in homes will be eligible for testing. This is in addition to testing already underway for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 and their close contacts.

Testing will be done through the area’s COVID-19 Assessment Centres and community paramedics, among others.

“The protection of our most vulnerable populations is of utmost importance and is a mutual responsibility and commitment. Our valued collaborations with health sector partners and ongoing partnerships are more important today than ever,” Sutcliffe said.

The health unit announcement comes amid provincial directives to beef up safety measures for residents and staff in long-term care.

These directives include:

  • Staff and residents follow strict physical distancing guidelines.
  • Group activities are discontinued.
  • Staff screening occurs at the beginning and end of every shift, including temperature checks for fever.
  • All staff and essential visitors wear masks, gowns, goggles, and gloves.
  • Residents are assessed three times a day for symptoms. This includes temperature checks.
  • Visitor restrictions have been in effect since the beginning of March.
  • Employees of a long-term care provider cannot also work in any other long-term care home, health service provider, or retirement home.

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