“We’re All In This Together” – Not just a trendy tagline!

The recent success of Chatham-Kent’s Long Term Care Home COVID-19 swabbing initiative has proven that enhanced public health measures established in response to the pandemic are working.

On April 21, 2020, the province issued a new testing directive as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long Term Care Homes.  CK Public Health, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), Chatham-Kent EMS and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent responded to this call by immediately forming a partnership to systemically carry out testing of all staff and residents in Chatham-Kent’s Long Term Care Homes (LTCH).  Testing commenced on April 24, 2020 and was completed on May 13.  Results of this testing produced 100 per cent negative results amongst 926 staff members and 765 residents from Chatham-Kent’s seven LTCHs.  Approximately 85 per cent of staff and 95 per cent of residents were tested as part of active surveillance; staff and residents not tested were due to reasons related to resident consent or behaviour, and staff scheduling difficulties and leaves of absence.

“This was a significant undertaking, and our ability to carry it out in such a timely manner can be attributed to the diligence and flexibility of Long Term Care Home staff and residents,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health. “The efforts of all involved certainly contribute to health protection within our community.”

“As a community, Chatham-Kent has demonstrated time and time again the ability to work together towards a common goal. Keeping our community safe requires every one of us to do our part.  Long Term Care Home staff are heroes and municipal staff are honoured to be part of helping them to keep their residents safe,” said April Rietdyk, General Manager, Community Human Services/CEO CK Public Health.

Each home was contacted individually to establish testing timelines and logistics.  CKHA’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre assisted CK Public Health and the Chatham-Kent EMS Community Paramedic Program with testing in these homes.  In some cases, the homes chose to do the swabbing themselves.  The new directive ensured that all residents and staff of LTCHs were offered testing even without symptoms.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished thus far through this highly collaborative group of health system partners.  The results of our swabbing blitz in Long Term Care Homes truly proves that our public health measures are making a difference,” said Lori Marshall, President and CEO, CKHA. “I’d like to thank our community for their commitment to following social distancing measures and practicing consistent hand hygiene.  This has ensured our most vulnerable residents remain protected and our hospital resources are not overwhelmed.”

“I’d like to thank our Community Paramedics who answered the call to help our partners carry out proactive testing for our most vulnerable populations.  It’s been a team effort since the beginning to ensure our community remains healthy during this pandemic,” said Donald MacLellan, General Manager, Chatham-Kent EMS.  “Our partners at CK Public Health, CKHA and Long Term Care Homes have shown outstanding leadership and dedication during this challenging time.”

CK Public Health, CKHA and Chatham-Kent EMS would like to thank their LTCH partners for their continued diligence in adhering to infection control practices and enhanced public health restrictions.  The positive results of this testing initiative are a major accomplishment for the community of Chatham-Kent.

Anyone with questions about COVID-19 are asked to visit the CK Public Health website at http://www.ckpublichealth.com/covid19, call CK Public Health’s COVID-19 intake line at 519.355.1071 x1900 or email covid19@chatham-kent.ca.

Visit the Government of Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province is continuing to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

*Please note that for the safety of our Long Term Care Home staff and residents, all LTCH’s will remain closed to visits from the public until further direction is given by the province of Ontario.*