Published Sunday, January 17, 2021 6:04PM EST
A spokesperson for Long-Term Care Minister Dr. Merrilee Fullerton said in a statement to CTV News that the Red Cross will support Roberta Place, where there are 62 residents and 43 staff with COVID-19.
“We are pleased and excited about the swift action and assistance demonstrated by the Canadian Red Cross and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with them,” said Stephanie Barber, a spokesperson for Jarlette Health Services, which operates Roberta Place.
An outbreak was declared at the facility on Jan. 8. The ministry said a contract that will allow an Orillia hospital to temporarily take over the home is being formalized.
Staff from the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre have also been helping the long-term care home manage the outbreak.
“There is no question that the rise in community spread during the second wave is posing a serious threat to our most vulnerable residents, as well as the staff that are working tirelessly to keep them safe,” Krystle Caputo, Fullerton’s press secretary, said.
“We want to thank the staff at the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, the corporate leadership at Jarlette, the public health unit, Royal Victoria Hospital, and Ontario Health who are supporting the home as a Voluntary Management Contract is formalized, along with those from Roberta Place, for working around the clock to help stop the outbreak.”
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the Ford government Sunday to send the military to the facility and other long-term care homes with outbreaks.
“Behind the walls of some nursing homes, there is a horrifying humanitarian crisis playing out,” Horwath said in a statement. “In some of these homes, there aren’t enough people to offer residents the basics, let alone staff having the time to comfort and console residents who are battling this horrible virus.
Ontario reported 69 new deaths linked to COVID-19 on Sunday, including 36 residents of long-term care homes. There are 252 active outbreaks in long-term care homes in the province.
“This government has the power to help and the power to save lives, and they’re choosing not to invest in that,” Horwath said.
The ministry said the situation at the homes in the second wave is “very different” compared with the first wave when the military was called in to assist.
The ministry said the situation at long-term care homes in the second wave is “very different,” claiming that the government has addressed staffing shortages at long-term care homes that lead to the deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces during the first wave of the pandemic.
“We remain committed to doing everything we can, along with our partners, to help stabilize the home and have it return to normal operations,” Caputo said.
Meanwhile, vaccinations at the home began on Saturday, and 71 residents and staff have been inoculated so far.
“We are confident that this is a positive step for all those who live and work at Roberta Place, as the vaccination is an added layer of defence against the COVID-19 virus,” Barber said.
When asked about a report that the outbreak may be linked to the coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, Barber said she could not confirm it but, “further testing is underway with the support of Public Health.” There are 14 cases of the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 in the province as of Sunday.