Data-entry error wrongly placed Cornwall nursing home on provincial outbreak list, ministry concedes

Seen in image above: The bike path along side County Rd. 2 west of Cornwall. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

CORNWALL — Ontario’s official record of nursing homes with past outbreaks of COVID-19 dropped by one yesterday as the province has admitted a data-entry error incorrectly placed Cornwall’s Heartwood Long-term Care Home in the category late last week.

In fact, the Eleventh Street East nursing home should never have appeared in Ontario’s online COVID-19 “resolved outbreak” listing because there have been no cases at the institution to date, the Ministry of Long-Term Care confirmed for NVN last night after defending the information earlier in the weekend.

“Our inspector accidentally entered a number under ‘confirmed cases,’ that were meant for ‘pending cases,” said Gillian Sloggett, press secretary to Minister Merrilee Fullerton, after further “digging” into the issue on the weekend when informed by NVN that Heartwood management was insisting the home never experienced an outbreak.

“This is a total manual spreadsheet error…. I realize this has caused a tremendous amount of confusion,” she said. “I’m really sorry about that.”

Sloggett explained the “human error” involved a ministry inspector accidentally entering a number into “confirmed” cases that should have gone into “pending” cases — pending cases being tests undertaken but no results yet received.

Heartwood residents and staff were tested late last week, among a series of long-term care facilities undergoing mass testing in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit coverage area.

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis had said repeatedly that the Eastern Ontario Health Unit had no record of an outbreak at Heartwood, in reaction to the listing on the ministry website.

Sloggett further explained the mistake occurred during the ministry’s internal data-gathering process, which is separate from the numbers entered into the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) by local health units. Previously not released for public consumption, the data independently collected by the ministry was “used for our internal purposes only until recently when we decided in response to public interest to publish our internal numbers alongside iPHIS data in our daily epidemiological summaries,” she said.

The snafu coincided with the first COVID-19 deaths at another long-term care facility in the EOHU region — as two residents of Pinecrest Nursing Home in Plantagenet lost their lives — and the revelation of a second outbreak at Woodland Villa in Long Sault.

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