Residents, families stay virtually connected during COVID outbreak

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During the province-wide COVID-19 lockdown, family members cannot visit long-term care residents in-person, but steps have been taken at Maple Manor Long Term Care in Tillsonburg to maintain a connection.

“We have virtual visits,” said Rike Lammel-Joseph, administrator at Maple Manor Long Term Care last week.

“Our recreation department looks after that. That’s set up with the family members so they can talk through a tablet, so they see their loved ones on either side.

“Visiting right now in-person is not permitted, but we communicate with the families, obviously, about the update on their loved ones here.”

Maple Manor also recently established a program similar to the School Messenger app, expected to be ready this week, to provide updates on the status of the home.

“The virtual visits work very well with the residents… and we do everything in our power to accommodate that for everybody to ensure that they can see their loved ones and chat with them. In this case, we have to follow public health direction (no in-person visits) but the virtual can always work.”

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Since Maple Manor’s first COVID-19 cases were reported by Southwestern Public Health in December, the number has risen to 50 residents and 33 staff (as of Jan. 4).

On Thursday, Dec. 31, Southwestern Public Health reported one person had died from COVID-19 at Maple Manor.

Staff members that tested positive are excluded from working at the long-term care home, and are isolating.

“We are following the absolute protocol, what’s required of a home, and to the highest standards, of course,” said Lammel-Joseph. “Our staff here is extremely diligent in following protocols. They are an exemplary complement of staffing here, and looking after the utmost safety for our residents and themselves.”

Lammel-Joseph said Maple Manor has a complement of full and part-time staff, and they also have staff helping on a casual basis.

“We work very diligently here to accommodate the needs of the home. We also work with our neighbouring partners, such as the LHINs (Local Health Integration Network), which we speak daily to in a teleconference in a multi-disciplinary approach, and with the neighbouring hospitals as well. We are looking at managing all of the staffing requirements for the home.”

With the support of their partnering agencies, she said it has been manageable.

“And of course, our staff here is very diligent. I must say that – they are very diligent in accommodating the needs for the home and for our residents.”

The frequency of mass COVID-19 testing at Maple Manor (swabbing) is determined by the Ministry of Health’s colour-coded framework, which at one point was every two weeks.

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“Right now (in the grey zone), we are directed to swab weekly, all the staff members. And then of course if anybody becomes symptomatic, they get swabbed (immediately), and at the same time they have to maintain isolation at home until the (test) comes back either positive or negative.”

There is additional screening, twice a day, for staff entering the building and exiting – for temperature, and screening questions like ‘Do you feel unwell?’ ‘Do you have a cough?’ ‘A fever?’

Temperatures of residents are also taken twice a day, checking to see if they have become symptomatic.

“It’s called a febrile screener and that is done on each resident twice a day,” said Lammel-Joseph. “And that’s been in place since early in the summer.”

Lammel-Joseph said they are grateful for the support shown by the community, and she urges everyone to continue following health unit COVID-19 guidelines.

“Social distancing, wearing a mask, and sanitizing, sanitizing, sanitizing. And be patient. It’s important for them to be compassionate, kind and caring.

“Be patient, we are very diligent working with our residents here,” Lammel-Joseph summed up. “Kindness is good – kindness is always good.”

cabbott@postmedia.com

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