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COVID-19 Update Jan 14, 2022: Ontario

January 14, 2022

COVID-19-Blog

Hello everyone,

I wanted to provide you with a general update on how this wave of COVID-19 is impacting us at Seasons Retirement Communities.

The Retirement Home Regulatory Authority (RHRA) reported 34 retirement community outbreaks on January 3; that doubled to 70 mid-week, and today we are at 168 outbreaks in Ontario. Like others in the sector, many Seasons homes are experiencing outbreaks or are at heightened risk for one. Given community spread, we are not surprised, though we are concerned.

As noted in my last memo, two PCR-confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 signal a retirement community outbreak: This is a low threshold given current case counts. We are at a heightened risk for an outbreak every time we have positive rapid test results of team members, residents and visitors or when someone in those groups identifies as a close contact of another confirmed positive case.

In addition, if a resident has contact with a visitor or someone who tests positive, Public Health mandates that they have to be isolated. In some instances, we have been placed in suspected outbreaks for multiple residents having been close positive contacts, without those residents testing positive themselves. As one resident or team member comes off the list of affected individuals, another two are added. This means we are consistently teetering within the suspected outbreak status.

Designated Essential Visitors (DEVs), if you are visiting a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive resident, you will need eye protection (goggles or shields) and an N95 mask. If you have trouble sourcing these items, please reach out to the General Manager or Health and Wellness Manager to assist you in securing these resources.

Given that Ontario is no longer PCR testing the general public and that rapid tests are a scarce commodity outside of healthcare settings, it could start to feel as though retirement communities are the only places with cases of COVID-19. Of course, we know this is not true and that retirement residence cases are directly impacted by the virus spreading in the general community.

We want to continue to do our utmost to be transparent and communicate regularly with staff, residents and families, especially in our homes that are in an official or suspected outbreak. I ask for your patience and understanding, as the information flowing quickly from Public Health in previous waves is not as available today. Sometimes initial PCR results are not returned before a new batch of testing is required. Sometimes, people are considered ‘recovered’ before a PCR confirmed test result is returned to us. It is becoming increasingly harder to provide you with meaningful updates as we wait for information ourselves.

With schools reopening next week, we know it will be even harder for staff and visitors to avoid close contact with a positive case.   We know this needs to be prepared for; we implemented rapid testing for all who work and visit our homes weeks ago, which is doing its job of identifying positive cases at the door.

The good news is, vaccines are proving effective as many who receive a positive rapid test are asymptomatic and surprised by the result. They diminish the severity of outcomes in vaccinated individuals, which is very important to our vulnerable residents and staff. We see residents tolerate COVID-19 symptoms very well with our care team’s support and very few cases being transferred to the hospital compared to previous waves of the pandemic.

Last October, Seasons implemented a mandatory vaccination policy for all Seasons Team Members. This includes the booster shot. I want to thank everyone for their commitment to this policy and for doing everything to protect residents and coworkers.

Operations may look slightly different at Seasons as we navigate this wave and prioritize our residents’ and team members’ health and safety. We sincerely appreciate your patience and support right now. Fun Managers are committed to our residents’ overall well-being and continue to design engaging, fun, and safe programs. I encourage residents and families to utilize Cubigo as a means of entertainment and communication.

Thank you all for the trust you have placed in Seasons Retirement Communities. We take our responsibility to you very seriously and will continue to make all decisions with our staff and residents’ best interests in mind.

Sincerely,

LeighAnne Voll
Chief Operating Officer,
Seasons Retirement Communities

For additional online resources for COVID-19 you can visit the following sites:

Canada Health
Alberta Health
Alberta Health Services
Public Health Ontario
Retirement Home Regulatory Authority

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