Today, NS Health Minister Randy Delorey held a press conference to discuss the first wave of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, mainly as it pertains to the long term care sector. Here are the notes:
- 133 LTC homes (7000 beds) in NS, Northwood with the majority of cases and deaths
- A full review was conducted regarding the outbreak at Northwood
In advance of 2nd wave, the following recommendations from the review will be implemented:
- Establish mobile infection prevention and control (IPAC) drop team in each zone
- Provide funding to support IPAC in LTC such as PPE, room dividers and more
- Funding for additional stuff to be deployed as needed
- No more than 2 residents per room in LTC
- Continue providing PPE to LTC as necessary
- Build out the IPAC program for the long term
- Invest $26M this year and another $11M over the next 2 years to supports these recommendations
- The review did not indicate a move to 1 patient per room was a significant factor in the infection outcomes. 55% of the rooms in the province already are single rooms, and we are now guaranteeing no more than 2 patients per room as there are about 30 rooms in LTC in NS right now that have more than 2 beds per room. This change will be moved upon immediately
- Reduced sharing of bathrooms was noted as important during the review. There are some limits based on the physical buildings. Other steps can be made to reduce the risk but is more difficult to increase the physical number of bathrooms. Infection prevention controls is what will be focused on
- Regarding cleaning, the review acknowledged that routine tasks such as cleaning became less a priority. Efforts were made to improve staffing levels. The review recommends to ensure staffing is a priority to ensure cleaning remains a critical element of the response. We have committed to hiring additional staff and purchasing more supplied as necessary
- Occupancy above 2 is something we can operationalize very quickly. New builds and large renovations will ensure 1 patient per room will be the new standard. It's also worth noting individuals actually enjoy having the company of someone in the room with them. Again, this wasn't flagged as a critical element that needed immediate attention as per the review that was conducted.
- 90 beds are currently being held at Northwood as a COVID ward to help reduce overall density at that location
- We became aware in real time of inconsistent communication coming from Northwood. This is why this review is so important, so flag and identify the various aspects of the overall situation that needs attention. The recommendation that came from the report is to define the level of communication in advance. How often are updates to be given and what information is to be included.
- Why was a review done rather than a public inquiry? A review was the most expedient way to get tangible recommendations that we could implement to prevent and minimize future outbreaks.