Family, friends concerned about loved ones during COVID-19 outbreak at Almonte care home
ALMONTE, ONT. -- Family and friends of residents living at an Almonte long-term care home are concerned about their loved ones as a COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread at the facility.
The outbreak at Almonte Country Haven is the largest outbreak reported in eastern Ontario, with 10 deaths linked to novel coronavirus.
CTV News Ottawa has learned 20 other residents at the home have tested positive for COVID-19 since late March.
In an email to families Wednesday night, Almonte Country Haven said “since Sunday, March 29, 10 residents have passed away. Eight of those with COVID-19 related complications. We have proudly served this community for 39 years and each death leaves a lasting mark on our residents and our care team.”
Sources tell CTV News Ottawa all 10 people who died had tested positive for COVID-19. Two of the residents had pre-existing conditions that may have also contributed to their passing.
Brendan Kelly has a friend living at the Almonte Country Haven. He told News Talk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron that his friend and other residents haven’t been tested for COVID-19 despite the number of cases in the facility.
“To say that she is in a dark place would be an understatement. It’s an extremely challenging, depressing time in the home for people that are there,” said Kelly on Thursday afternoon.
“She’s feeling okay, but she’s very concerned that herself and other people in her room haven’t been tested for COVID-19 even though there has been so much death and confirmed cases in the home.”
Kelly says the staff are doing the best they can, but “meals are still being delivered late, washing the patients has become very challenging and very rare.”
“It’s horrific to say the least and to try to keep up the spirits of the people that are in there has been very challenging.”
Ontario is set to release new COVID-19 testing guidelines this week that will make testing residents of long-term care facilities a priority.
Kelley says the family of his friend living in the home would remove her from Almonte Country Haven if she tested negative for COVID-19.
“The real road block comes with the fact that we need her tested so that we know that we can safely remove her from the home.”
There are 82 residents living at the home, with 30 cases of COVID-19 reported since the outbreak was declared in late March.
An unspecified number of staff members at the home have also tested positive for COVID-19, but the home’s management has not released the number.
Debbie Cox told CTV News Ottawa on Tuesday her father Ross Richards passed away on Monday after staff said he was showing signs of COVID-19.
Cox said on Thursday that instead of grieving the death of her father, she is worrying about her mother still living in the home.
“I think worry is taking over my grieving right now. Basically, they are all just left there to see if they’ll survive.”
Cox’s husband Rick is furious about how the residents are being treated.
“You pay so much a month for these people to be there. And they say they’re quarantining them but come on pulling a curtain around.”
Rick Spencer is concerned about his daughter living at the home, saying he’s received more updates from the media instead of Almonte Country Haven.
“On the news really. We had some idea that the situation was worse than they were telling us, like I said when we looked in the window and saw two of her roommates were gone.”
Spencer says his daughter is living with advanced MS, and has now tested positive for COVID-19.
Meantime, the granddaughter of a resident of Almonte Country Haven who died on Wednesday released a statement, defending the staff at the facility.
“You have no idea how hard the facility is working to provide the best care for those patients in this time,” wrote Jessica Mulligans.
Almonte Country Haven has hired a spokesperson, who is expected to provide daily updates on the situation at the long-term care facility moving forward.
On Thursday, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit reported there were 137 cases of COVID-19 in the district, and eight deaths. The latest report said there are seven deaths in long-term care homes linked to COVID-19.
With reporting from CTV News Ottawa's Graham Richardson and Saron Fanel.