Outbreaks in seniors homes a growing concern

By Gordon Lambie
Outbreaks in seniors homes a growing concern

As a part of his weekly update on Monday afternoon, regional public health director Dr. Alain Poirier said that the week-to-week numbers are not shifting dramatically one way or another at the moment but added that the increasing number of outbreaks in public and private seniors’ residences is a matter of concern.
There were 86 different outbreaks being monitored across the region on Monday, including a new one at the Résidence Haut-Bois in Sherbrooke.
As in past weeks, Poirier reasserted the need for people to respect isolation measures and to get tested as soon as possible upon developing symptoms.
“Christmas or not, people need to follow the directives,” he said.
Looking to the holidays Nancy Desautels, associate director of emergency measures with the CIUSSS de L’Estrie-CHUS, said that testing clinics will remain open through the holidays, but she specifically discouraged people getting tested if they are asymptomatic as a kind of “free pass” to visiting friends and family. Not only is that not how testing works, she said, but the unnecessary additional tests put a burden on the system.
Speaking specifically to concerns that had been expressed on the weekend about the capacity of Sherbrooke’s designated confinement centre, infectious disease specialist Dr. Vincent Masse pointed out that when people speak of the centre reaching its capacity, they are talking about 40 beds. Although the centre is housed in the former convent of the Petites Sœurs de la Sainte-Famille nuns, Masse said that only a small part of the large building is being used, and that capacity is a matter of human resources, rather than one of physical space.
“The entire building is not overflowing,” he said, comparing the facility to a hotel, in that people are constantly coming and going alongside their symptoms.
Masse added that contrary to reports, the facility has not reached capacity, although he pointed out that people who are concerned can help by following public health guidelines.
“Human resources has been, and will continue to be a major factor in our healthcare system,” the doctor said. “The more cases we have in the community, the more people will need the hospital, and the more people who need the hospital, the greater the pressure will be on the healthcare network.”
There were 96 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the Estrie Region on Monday, 69 of which were in the Sherbrooke and Haute-Yamaska areas. Two new deaths, one in the community and one at the Villa-Bonheur care home in the Haute-Yamaska, brought the total number of deaths to-date to 64. The number of hospitalizations increased by one to 24, six of whom were in intensive care (the same number as the day before).
4,684 people have contracted the virus in the region since the start of the pandemic, 3,910 of whom are now considered to have recovered.
The Province of Quebec reported another 1,333 new cases on Monday, bringing the total number of people infected to 142,371. The data also reported 23 new deaths, for a total of 7,056. The number of hospitalizations increased by 28 compared to the previous day, for a cumulative total of 693. Among these, the number of people in intensive care increased by 2, for a total of 94.

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