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Puslinch long-term care home deals with challenges from suspected outbreak

Morriston Park Nursing Home had previously asked for community donations to provide critical PPE for staff
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PUSLINCH – Morriston Park Nursing Home has clarified their request for donations as they deal with immense challenges under a suspected outbreak. 

Karen Bolger, chief operating officer at the long term care home, said the community’s response to the request for donations has been tremendous and they have a fairly good supply of PPE. 

“We’ve been very fortunate but with PPE, you can go through them quickly if you’re in an outbreak,” Bolger said. 

Bolger explained there is one staff member who is suspected of having COVID-19.

“We’re just waiting on a swab result, so it’s only one staff and who’s been swabbed on Saturday,” Bolger said. “We’re awaiting results so we have to treat that as if we do have COVID.”

An outbreak would have a big impact on the small care home, particularly in food production. Bolger clarified that all her dietary staff is healthy and residents are being well fed.

Bolger explained most larger care homes would have enough staff to be able to fill-in for others who get sick.

“Because we’re so small, we have one cook,” Bolger said. “If my cook gets sick or if my cook needs to stay off pending swabs then my food production would be impaired.”

This is why they put out a call for food donations. Bolger said the care home gets just under $10 per resident to feed them for the day. 

“If I have to outsource food during an outbreak, I could be paying $15 to $20 a plate,” Bolger said. “This money is not sufficient.”

Bolger acknowledged the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has stepped up funding recently but the allotment of PPE is insufficient. For example she said the provincial allocation for gloves is two pairs for each staff member a shift. 

“Typically I go through 5,000 gloves a week and that’s without outbreaks,” Bolger said. “Based on that provincial formula I’d only be getting 90 pairs of gloves.”

When it came to asking for lodging for staff, again Bolger explained that funding is an issue.

“If they were dealing with an actual COVID outbreak, half of my staff would not want to go to their homes and I don’t blame them,” Bolger said. “So we would need to provide them with lodging. That would be an extraordinary expense.”

Bolger was pricing suites and they worked out to be about $160 per night and staff would each need private areas for 14 or more days. 

Bolger is awaiting results of the staff member’s COVID test and hoping it is negative so the pandemic response at the home can be lifted.

She said this is the second time a suspected outbreak has occurred at the home. Three weeks ago a staff member tested negative.

Bolger reinforced how thankful she was for the community stepping up to help. She noted the local fire department, Royal Canin and other factories donated much needed supplies.

Now she waits to see how ministry funding impacts the care home.

“The ministry has given homes more funding this month and there’s more funding to come,” Bolger said. “Will it be enough? I don’t know.”

Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka is a general assignment reporter for Elora, Fergus and rural Centre Wellington.
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