congregate care settings

Outbreaks in congregate care homes rise dramatically

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

COVID-19 outbreaks in health and congregate care settings, including hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, public health units and clinics are increasing dramatically, according to the most recent data from the Ontario Health Coalition.

The report shows that the numbers of those infected in health care settings are going up faster than ever. The document is now 133 pages long and tracks the outbreaks in each health and congregate care facility week by week since the pandemic began. The summaries show the devastating march of the virus, charting the significant numbers and sizes of outbreaks in public hospitals, private hospitals, mental health facilities, long-term care homes, retirement homes and congregate care homes. The Coalition has added a chart with all the large outbreaks (more than 10 people infected) in each type of setting to make them easier to find.

“The outbreaks are not under control,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director. “Clearly the infection control measures taken to date are insufficient. The fact is that by every set of data available the death toll has increased by more than 333 per cent in two weeks. We found a 156 per cent increase in the number of patients and residents infected in hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes and congregate care. The number of staff in health care infected in the last month has gone up by almost 3,000 people – a 67 per cent increase. We found that more staff than patients are now infected in public hospital outbreaks.”

Mehra points to the “inadequate” PPE that staff are able to access as one source of the problem, adding that testing, contract tracing, and isolation need to be ramped up and workers need to be supported to quarantine when they test positive. “From our provincial government we need a coherent plan including: concrete measures to improve supply, capacity and infection control; leadership and coordination to stem the tide of infections that is sweeping through our healthcare facilities,” she said.

More measures recommended by the Coalition include:

  • Better infection control, including better access to PPE;
  • Improved standards for infection control and appropriate equipment in abundant supply;
  • Infected staff supported to isolate at home;
  • Testing of all residents and staff in long-term care homes, retirement homes, and congregate care facilities (and shelters);
  • Ramped-up testing using Ontario’s full public capacity;
  • Recognizing that understaffing in long-term care is critical and must be addressed.

Key findings in the latest Ontario Health Coalition report:

  • The total number of people infected by COVID-19 in health and congregate care settings, including staff and patients/residents, is 7,894 as of May 5, up from the 3,783 reported prior to April 21. This total has almost doubled in two weeks.
  • From April 2 to May 5 there was an increase by 2,784 workers to 3,013 workers infected, an increase from 9.6 per cent to 16.1 per cent (an increase of 67.7 percent in a month).
  • The total number of outbreaks in health care and congregate care settings as of May 5 is 459 (including 107 resolved). These outbreaks are in 403 facilities including hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, Public Health Units, clinics and other congregate care settings.
  • Despite the positive fact that some outbreaks have resolved, the net result remains that there are more outbreaks than two weeks ago and significantly more people infected.
  • In total, the Coalition has tracked 4,951 patients/residents who contracted COVID-19 in health and congregate care settings. This is an increase of 3,015 (or 155.7 percent) since April 21.
  • As of May 5, a total of 1,878 patients and residents died in outbreaks in health and congregate care settings, up from 433 deceased in the two weeks before April 21. That increase amounts to 1,445 residents and patients, representing an increase of 333.7 per cent.

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