‘Outbreak’ of less than five symptom-free residents at Woodland Villa; no cases have occurred at Heartwood in Cornwall, ministry now says

Woodland Villa. ©Google

Update: Heartwood Long-term Care Home in Cornwall never had outbreak as Ministry of Long-Term Care concedes that institution was mistakenly placed on provincial ‘resolved outbreaks’ list; see further below in article

CORNWALL — Woodland Villa in Long Sault has been added to the list of long-term care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, with “less than five” of 111 residents confirmed positive for the virus, all of them showing no symptoms, according to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

Owned by OMNI Health Care, the Villa’s appearance on the provincial data record this weekend follows mass testing of staff and residents at that nursing home and others in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) coverage area in recent days. The EOHU similarly confirmed the results this afternoon.

A nursing home “outbreak” can mean as little as one case, under the provincial definition. For confidentiality reasons, officials don’t release specific numbers of infected at a facility unless it is five or more.

The only other nursing-home residents in the region currently shown to be infected after a mass testing exercise  — eight people living at Pinecrest in Plantagenet — are asymptomatic as well. Their lack of symptoms, along with two positive staff members similarly not sickened, has perplexed Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis.

Meanwhile, the province records that a third nursing home in the EOHU region has had a past outbreak of COVID-19, which came as a surprise to the doctor (and is denied by the owner of the involved home). The medical officer of health could not explain Friday how The Heartwood Long-Term Care Home came to be listed on the provincial list of homes with “resolved” outbreaks.

“That’s news to me,” said Dr. Roumeliotis when informed of it during his daily media Q&A. Noting that Heartwood underwent mass testing only a day earlier (on Thursday), he speculated the listing may have resulted from confusion over the regular (non-COVID-19) coronavirus, which recently affected a home in the EOHU area. He promised to look into the matter further and is expected to report back at Monday afternoon’s media briefing.

However, the press secretary to Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton vouched for the accuracy of the information about Heartwood, reporting the data would have been provided to the ministry by the institution itself.  “According to the Ministry of Long Term Care’s (MLTC) administrative data, which is reported to the MLTC by long-term care homes, this home experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 in April including three positive staff members and one possible resident whose test results were pending,” Gillian Sloggett told NVN in an email today.

“This outbreak has since resolved,” Sloggett wrote.

“Under the Health Promotion and Protection Act, long term care homes are legally required to report outbreaks to the local medical officer of health. This is not a data collection problem on the part of the province, as the province relies fully on homes and local public health units to report data into the province.

“If there are any communication issues, we advise the local medical officer of health to follow up with the operators at Heartwood long-term care home.”

But Susan Schutta, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Revera Inc., denied the ministry’s record of past cases at Heartwood. “To date there are no residents or staff at Heartwood who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Schutta said by email. “We are not clear on why there is different information being reported by the Ministry.”

(Update: Sloggett contacted NVN Monday night, May 4, to report that a data-entry error at the ministry incorrectly placed Heartwood among the homes listed as having experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. No such outbreak occurred, the ministry now concedes, after investigating the matter further in response to the original article.)

Meanwhile, at Dundas Manor in Winchester, administrator Susan Poirier indicated this morning that results have yet to be received from the mass testing of staff and residents undertaken at that site on Friday.

More nursing homes will undergo testing this week.

This article has been updated to include Revera Inc.’s denial that a COVID-19 outbreak occurred at Heartwood Long-Term Care Home in Cornwall. And it was updated again to include the ministry’s concession of their data-entry error and confirmation that no past outbreak occurred at Heartwood.)

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