Parkview Place to test all residents as more than 40% now infected with COVID-19

The for-profit company that owns Parkview Place is ramping up efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by bringing in new staff and paying to have every resident tested. 

This comes after Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) staff entered the residence last weekend for the first time since March and found numerous deficiencies including lack of cleaning, lack of staff knowledge of outbreak protocols and the need for more medical and clinical staff.

Ninety-seven of the home’s 221 residents — 44 per cent — have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began on Sept. 15, based on Parkview’s most recent occupancy figures. 

Revera says it engaged Dynacare on Friday to test all residents at Parkview Place as part of a pilot project in order to accelerate the testing process and inform efforts to cohort and isolate residents.

Dynacare is the same private lab that’s analyzing some of the swabs for the provincial COVID-19 testing program. 

“We appreciate the support of the WRHA in approving this Revera-funded solution to accelerate testing of our residents,” said Dr. Rhonda Collins, Revera’s chief medical officer who is registered to practice in Ontario. 

Collins said more than 200 residents have been tested to date.

Twenty-six staff members have also tested positive, which is straining Parkview’s ability to deliver resident care.

Call for all staff to be tested

Revera says it is advocating for all-staff surveillance testing in all jurisdictions where it operates over the world.

“In areas of high community spread, this can be a valuable tool in helping us identify asymptomatic carriers early,” said Collins in a written statement.

Collins noted surveillance testing for all long-term care employees initiated by the Government of Ontario this summer identified numerous asymptomatic staff who, had they not been tested, would have unwittingly spread the virus. 

Asymptomatic health care providers are not routinely tested for COVID-19 in Manitoba but they may be offered testing if they have been exposed to a case according to a Health Department spokesperson. 

“Public health has continually revisited its advice on testing as the science develops, especially for vulnerable populations,”  said the spokesperson. “[F]uture decisions on offering asymptomatic testing for staff who have not been exposed to a case will be made based on scientific data.”

Revera said that when the WRHA visited last weekend, the evening staffing fell “short of the target” because an unspecified number of staff were self-isolating due to the virus. 

“Essential care did not suffer during those temporary shortages. All eyes and efforts remain focused on resident care and infection control,” said Collins.

She says staffing levels have stabilized at Parkview this week because some permanent staff who previously tested positive have been cleared to return to work. 

In addition to an onsite pharmacist provided by the WRHA last week, Parkview Place has:

  • added front line and management staff from other Revera locations, with WRHA approval.
  • hired new employees.
  • committed to bringing in agency staff for a number of different roles to support the home’s clinical, recreation and environmental services staff.

Parkview will be able to access staff recruited through last week’s provincial call for staff, which resulted in hiring 11 registered nurses, two health care aides,one respiratory therapist and one physiotherapist, according to a Manitoba Health Department spokesperson.

Manitoba Health did not specify how many, if any, of the new workers went to Parkview Place. Revera did not quantify the total number of staff it added. 

Dedicated on-site physician touted by health minister does not exist

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen has said there was a dedicated on-site physician at Parkview since mid-October. Revera says it does not have a full-time physician. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press)

Revera says the WRHA is sending a dedicated full-time Nurse Practitioner to start working in-person at Parkview Place starting Monday.

This announcement comes a week after Manitoba’s Health Minister Cameron Friesen repeatedly said Parkview now has an on-site physician in multiple interviews with media.

“Everyone is working very, very hard at Parkview Place. We know that we now have a dedicated physician on-site,” said Friesen in a press conference on Oct.16. He repeated the same claim twice the day before when questioned about what the province was doing to curb its deadliest outbreak to date. 

“If by ‘dedicated’ you mean full-time, then the answer is no,” wrote a spokesperson for Revera when asked if Parkview had a dedicated on-site physician 

Revera did say its local medical director, Dr. Bharat Shah, “is completing on-site rounds,” but did not specify when he restarted in-person visits after pausing them due to the pandemic. She said the role of medical director is not a full-time job.

Minister Friesen, who has not held a press conference in more than a week, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about his statements.

Parkview Place located in hot zone

Collins says downtown Winnipeg has more active cases than anywhere else in Manitoba. 

“The level of community spread is a direct predictor of the potential for, and severity of, an outbreak of COVID-19 in long-term care,” said Collins. 

She said staff are grieving the deaths of residents and the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for the people who work in long-term care.

“Everyone at Parkview Place is focused on providing care to residents and stopping the spread of this devastating virus,” Collins said. 

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