The Suburban got in touch with the West Island Health Board (CIUSSS) recently to get an update on the COVID 19 pandemic.
The CHSLD Herron, which made international headlines when it was announced 30 seniors had died after the staff left in April, has restablizied with now only three percent of residents infected with COVID-19, the same infection rate as at LaSalle hospital.
There are also no known cases at the Sainte Anne Veterans’ hospital in Sainte Anne-de-Bellevue. According to recent statistics, there are no COVID-19 cases at the CHSLD Vigi in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, the site of another outbreak weeks ago.
When asked about the two recent outbreaks in May at the Lakeshore General Hospital, WI Health Board spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé told The Suburban that “following an outbreak in mid-May at the hospital, we reorganized the containment zones. For those hospitalized patients who tested positive for COVID-19, they were transferred to a containment zone that was adapted for this purpose, with all the required protective measures in place.
“Since the situation is constantly evolving, we make sure to conduct ongoing follow-ups with healthcare staff to ensure that the infection prevention and control measures are properly applied,” said Bérubé.
With the provincial government requesting support from the Canadian Armed Forces to extend into September, “five facilities on our territory have received reinforcements from the Forces: Saint-Anne Hospital, CHSLD Les Floralies, Grace-Dart, CHSLD Nazaire-Piché and CHSLD Denis-Benjamin-Viger. All of these facilities had been identified to receive reinforcements from military teams due to a significant shortage of personnel.”
For Grace Dart and Saint-Anne Hospital, “the military’s mandate is over for these two facilities, since the situation is now stabilized,” said Bérubé, noting that Grace Dart had received “reinforcements from a medical team composed of 14 military personnel (nurses and medical technicians) and 32 service aides” and the Veterans’ Hospital “ received reinforcements from a medical team of 14 military personnel (nurses and medical technicians).”
For the other three residences, roughly 100 members, including nurses and technicians, are working in the CHSLDs and that the health board “would like to thank the teams from the Canadian Armed Forces who came to lend a hand to the healthcare teams in the CHSLDs on our territory.”
When asked about recent developments that have had a positive outlook for seniors in the infected residences, Bérubé said that “we believe that the support of caregivers can truly make a difference to our residents, especially in the current context. We are therefore very pleased to welcome families and caregivers back to our facilities since mid-May, in accordance with public health guidelines.”
Caregivers have been receiving “90-minute training sessions for families and caregivers to ensure that the infection prevention and control measures are respected in order to limit the spread of the virus.”
With certain restrictions being eased and more activities and commerce opening across the province, Bérubé suggested that “we must all remain rigorous in the application of infection prevention and control measures to limit the spread of the virus, particularly with respect to social distancing.”
While there’s still a lot of talk about the plans for a new transitory shelter (700 beds) for the city’s homeless, community workers are worried that the city may not have the resources to deal with a second wave of COVID.
“The city’s already taking down its tents, and we have fewer and fewer resources to make it through the day,” said Nakuset who works with many indigenous homeless and led the successful effort for relief at Cabot Square where dozens had died. As of last weekend, Resilience directors David Chapman and Nakuset denounced how city police were no longer letting people sleep in Cabot Square – the park that many now call “home.” As a result, people with plenty of problems are once again forced to make their way through the city in order to find a few square feet where they can pitch a tent and get a few hours sleep before the police come around in the morning. Aside from all the money and assorted resources that she needs to help care for her clients, both Chapman and Nakuset say COVID has become just another problem that’s already done a lot to affect the city’s homeless. Aside from basic medical care, Nakuset also mentioned how it would be a good idea if the local CIUSSS could park one of their buses near the square so that people could get tested for COVID.
“A lot of our people don’t want to go to the hospital, but they’re worried because no one wants to get sick,” she said. “If we had better information, we could do something, but as of now, all we can do is to tell people to keep their distance.”
Three months after the virus first began to work its way through the city, Nakuset recalls how everybody was calling her up with offers to help the people in Cabot Square. While she’s grateful to those who came through on their promise, the help fell short of what she needed for the growing population in the square, and now it’s become a struggle to feed people twice a day. As the city keeps closing down its emergency resource infrastructure such as the downtown rest areas, more and more people are coming into the park looking for something to eat and a bit of shelter.
“They closed the downtown rest areas (Place Desjardins, La Grande Bibliothèque), but we managed to keep the Dawson site open, so that’s a plus,” she said.
As for priorities, both Nakuset and Chapman agree that testing is “the big one.”
As up to 75% of her clients tell her that they are willing to be tested, patience is no longer an option, because testing is the only way the city can mitigate the virus.
“There are lots of reasons why people don’t want to go to the hospital to be tested,” she said, “so it’s up to the authorities to send us the bus, and we’ll make sure people line up to get the test.”
When asked if people were already getting sick, both Chapman and Nakuset answered that homeless people are always sick ( to one degree or another) so COVID doesn’t make much of a difference in their day-to-day lives.
“Crisis, what crisis?” said Chapman with a laugh. “What’s a crisis when every day of your life is some kind of crisis?”