Nursing homes report adequate PPE supplies

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MANITOULIN – With new and more stringent protocols being implemented almost daily in Island long-term care facilities and in massive volumes of deaths occurring in nursing homes where the virus has managed to infiltrate and spread, The Expositor reached out to local long-term care homes to see where they stand in regards to their supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). The news coming back was heartening as all three homes report that they have adequate supplies of PPE and remain free of COVID-19. 

Testing of both staff and residents is currently underway in each of the homes and results are anticipated within a couple of days.

“Actually, our supplies are pretty good,” said Cheryl Osawabine-Peltier, administrator of the Wikwemikong Nursing Home. “Especially when you consider all of our staff are required to wear masks while on duty. Our supplies are holding pretty good.” While the homemade masks the nursing home acquired from the community can’t be used by the staff on duty, “they have to be surgical masks,” said Ms. Osawabine-Peltier, the custom masks have been useful for staff going to the grocery store or conducting other tasks within the community.

“To date, we have been able to maintain all of our PPE stocks to ensure that our staff are properly equipped to safely care for our residents in accordance with the stringent health and safety protocols mandated by public health,” said Stephanie Barber, community relations co-ordinator for the Manitoulin Lodge in Gore Bay responding to an emailed query. “While directives surrounding PPE are rapidly changing, we have and continue to maintain strict adherence to all practices mandated by our governing bodies, while proudly exercising good stewardship and appropriate usage of PPE. Manitoulin Lodge was also proactive in ensuring all staff use masks while in our home before it was required and continues to strive to take every precaution to further safeguard our trusted residents, family members, staff and the Gore Bay community.”

Manitoulin Centennial Manor is also holding its own when it comes to PPE, according to administrator Tamara Beam. “We are doing alright,” she said. “Especially now that the other supplies, disinfectants and cleaning materials are coming in again. Even if the nursing home were to fall to below a seven-day supply, the province has a backstop warehouse full of supplies the Manor could access in a pinch.”

The Manor is also starting the testing of its staff and residents this week. “Our swabs have come in and we will be starting to test this week,” she said. The testing should be complete at the Manor by week’s end.

All three Island long-term care homes are now holding a regular conference call with the hospital to ensure close co-operation and a rapid response should the virus appear in any of the homes. Contingency plans are in place with hospital nursing staff on deck to provide support as needed to the nursing homes in the event of an outbreak.

The Manitoulin Health Centre is also holding its own when it comes to PPE and hospital CEO Lynn Foster said the drop-in emergency department visits occurring during the pandemic has actually lightened the load somewhat when it comes to the rate at which the two sites are going through PPE supplies. The efforts of local community members to provide custom cloth masks for caregivers and home kits are also a welcome boon.

All in all, the situation remains positive, even if somewhat trying for both staff and residents with the strict new protocols in place.