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Ottawa hosts 'garden visits' for residents at two municipal-run long-term care homes
OTTAWA -- The City of Ottawa has begun hosting "garden visits" for family and friends with loved ones at two municipal-run long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Community and Protective Services Committee was told the city began hosting garden visits last week at Carleton Lodge and Centre d'accueil Champlain long-term care homes. The city clarified after the presentation at the committee that visits are not currently allowed at the Garry J. Armstrong home due to a case of COVID-19.
The head of long-term care Dean Lett told the committee that the garden visits must be scheduled in advance, and visitors must respect the two-metre physical distancing guidelines.
Garden visits are not allowed at long-term care homes currently under a COVID-19 outbreak. There are still active COVID-19 outbreaks at the City of Ottawa's Peter D. Clark and Garry J. Armstrong long-term care homes.
The Ontario Government allowed garden visits to resume on Thursday, but Lett told the Committee that the city began the garden visits last week to allow for connections between residents and family.
Visitor restrictions remain in place at the city's long-term care homes to limit the spread of COVID-19. In May, the city reintroduced window visits for family members after community outrage over a move to cancel the window visits with loved ones.
Ottawa's four municipal-run long-term care homes have hosted approximately 9,000 technology visits between residents and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 cases in long-term care homes
The Community and Protective Services Committee was told there is only one active case among residents at Ottawa's four municipal-run long-term care homes.
One resident at the Peter D. Clark long-term care home has an active case of COVID-19. Five staff members at Peter D. Clark and one staff member at Garry J. Armstrong have active cases of COVID-19.
Testing staff for COVID-19
The City of Ottawa says it believes the COVID-19 outbreaks at the homes were the result of staff members bringing the COVID-19 virus into the homes. Lett said at Peter D. Clark home, a staff member brought the virus into the home and it was transmitted to other staff, and then residents.
Lett told the Community and Protective Services Committee that the city has established screening protocols for staff arriving at work.
"We are screening staff before they start their shifts. There's a series of questions they get asked that they have to pass that before they're admitted into the homes," said Lett.
"One of the biggest challenges is that people are asymptomatic and they're not aware that they're carrying the virus. So, they're shedding the virus unknowingly to other individuals"
Staff are now restricted to only working in one home at a time.
COVID-19 surveillance testing was completed on all staff members at long-term care homes last week.
Hiring new staff members
The City of Ottawa has hired 91 new staff members for the four long-term care homes, and 47 staff members were redeployed from other departments to the homes.
The committee was told the City of Ottawa partners with Algonquin College, La Cite and Herzing College to hire personal support worker students and practical nursing students to support care and services.
The City of Ottawa clarified after the presentation at the Community and Protective Services Committee that garden visits are currently only allowed at Carleton Lodge and Centre d'accueil Champlain. Garden visits are not permitted at Garry J. Armstrong and Peter D. Clark homes due to cases of COVID-19.