Thirty eight people at Vision Nursing Home have tested positive for COVID-19

Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton's Acting Medical Officer of Health,

Lambton’s medical officer of health isn’t sure having health care workers stay on site has been ‘beneficial’

Dr. Sudit Ranade is not surprised the number of people infected with COVID-19 at a Sarnia nursing home is still rising.

Lambton Public Health says 20 residents and 18 staff members have now tested positive for the virus which has hit seniors particularly hard. Four people at the home have died from COVID-19.

Originally, officials from the home said the people with COVID-19 were confined to one wing of the home but Ranade believes it has spread beyond that now.

Health care workers in the home stayed in the facility hoping to care for the residents and containing the virus. Ranade, Lambton’s medical officer of health, isn’t sure that has helped.

“There’s very limited evidence that rehousing or moving a group of people who are health care providers outside of their existing home and into a shared setting is a beneficial idea in terms of limiting the community’s spread. So at this time, we don’t think so. Certainly, intuitively, it might make sense, but we don’t necessarily think that there’s a lot of evidence,” he told reporters at his daily briefing.

Ranade says while public health provides support, it does not go directly into the home. But he does say basic infection control practices will be important to stop the virus from spreading.

“It really does come back to the basic infection prevention and control practices, making sure that people are doing them appropriately, using PPE (personal protective equipment) correctly and consistently, and ensuring that they have adequate environmental cleaning,” he says.

He adds its important to continue using good infection control practices even when people are not directly involved in care.

Recently, the province passed legislation which would make it easier to take over a nursing home in crisis because of COVID-19. Ranade says there are not set standards as to what that would entail and public health hasn’t received clear regulations from the province. He expects that would be a decision made by the Health Minister.

And while the number of cases at Vision is inching towards the largest outbreak in Lambton at Landmark Village, Ranade isn’t sounding the alarm bells.

“Once an outbreak takes hold in a home, we expected to get worse before it gets better,” says Ranade.

“Just because a home is in the upswing of an outbreak, it doesn’t mean I’m inherently worried… just the sheer numbers are not that surprising to me because we saw what happened in Landmark, for example.

“I think there are some homes that have been very successful and keeping cases down. And I think the question becomes what makes the difference between those kinds of homes and the homes where this spread?

Ranade suspects once the pandemic has eased, public health officials will look at the reasons some homes which were able to deal with COVID-19 effectively. “One is organizational dynamics and capacity, two is issues around staffing and the third is going to end up being infection prevention control and implementation. That’s my guess.”