Hotel-Dieu Grace hospital taking control of Windsor LTC home in major COVID-19 outbreak

Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare hospital is taking over essential operations at The Village at St. Clair long-term care home in Windsor, which is experiencing the region’s largest COVID-19 outbreak. 

The hospital said it would be stepping in and “assisting the Village with their needs,” in a news release Thursday. The home was declared in outbreak by the local health unit on Dec. 8. As of Thursday, the health unit is reporting 164 cases — 97 residents and 67 staff members, with 12 residents having died from the disease. 

 The hospital will take over “on-site leadership,” as well as infection prevention, control and education.

As of Thursday, the hospital’s CEO Janice Kaffer will be on-site along with other members of the hospital’s management team and staff. The team will be working closely with Joanne Potts, Shlegel Village’s VP of operations.

Other areas the hospital will be taking responsibility for are:

  • Enhanced oversight related to communications. 
  • Resident and family relations. 
  • Reporting. 
  • Physician oversight. 

Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital was partnered with the home at the start of the pandemic to provide support when needed and since the outbreak began it supplied eight team members to help out. 

The hospital said it has identified “several priorities” in the home and will start immediately, noting that this is a “rapidly evolving situation.” 

Families and the workers’ union have been demanding action from the home since last week, noting that staffing was low and demanding that the government take control of the home. 

In an email to CBC News Tuesday, the home acknowledged that it was short staffed and noted a number of measures it was taking to keep up its operations and care for residents. 

This included onboarding more staff and bringing in volunteers to help, as well as having the Red Cross on site for a needs assessment. 

The home said its own management team was stepping in as PSWs to fill in the gaps. 

‘It’s a little too late’

Winsorite Katrina Simonato, whose 75-year-old mom is a resident at The Village at St. Clair, says while she’s happy to hear that the home is receiving additional support, she also thinks “it’s a little too late.” 

“I think that everybody knew that there was going to be that second wave and I think the preparation for the second wave was just not realistic. That people just thought ‘ok might not happen to us’ .. as long as people are still trying to do normal living then of course seniors and [the] vulnerable population is going to be effected. I think they should have had a strategy sooner,” she said. 

Katrina Simonato says her 75-year-old mom is a resident of The Village at St. Clair and that it’s been challenging to get any staff on the phone. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

On top of the extra staffing, she said she wants more transparency and coordination between community partners. 

“It is heart-wrenching, it is sad and you can’t even really celebrate Christmas knowing in the back of your mind that we’re going to [maybe] get a call that my mom is positive.”