Hamilton public health issues compliance orders to two care homes with COVID-19 outbreaks

Two Hamilton care homes with COVID-19 outbreaks have been issued compliance orders after recent inspections at the facilities found they weren’t following infection and prevention control (IPAC) measures.

Hamilton Public Health issued a Section 22 order to Heritage Green Nursing Home on April 22 and another to Evergreen Manor on May 5.

Heritage Green’s outbreak, which was declared on April 10, has infected a total of four residents and six staff.

An April 21 inspection at the Stoney Creek facility reported a number of breaches of IPAC measures, including:

Another inspection took place a week later and determined that the facility still wasn’t properly screening people going in and out of the building, and staff in the break room was not physically distancing.

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Meanwhile, the outbreak at Evergreen Manor on Cathcart Street has spread to 18 residents and two staff since it was declared on April 29.

During an inspection on April 30, public health reported a total of eleven “non-critical” infractions, including:

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Both facilities have been ordered to “immediately” take a number of actions, including implementing active COVID-19 screening of all residents, staff, and essential visitors, maintaining PPE supplies and ensure staff members are trained on how to use them, implementing a policy for indoor mask-wearing in common spaces, and improving its plans for outbreak management, staff shortages and enhanced environmental cleaning.

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Global News has reached out to the operators of Heritage Green and Evergreen Manor, but did not hear back by the publishing deadline.

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In an email, a spokesperson for Hamilton public health told Global News that the city works with the owners and operators of facilities to ensure that they follow IPAC practices to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, which includes inspections.

“When items are not corrected to meet best practice by the required time, legal action may occur to obtain compliance through a Section 22 Order,” wrote James Berry, communications officer on behalf of public health.

“Repeat infractions noted during follow-up assessments or during any future assessments may lead to legal action.”

The Section 22 orders indicate that the operators can appeal by requesting a hearing within 15 days of receiving a copy of the order, but if they fail to comply, they may be fined up to $25,000 per day, with the potential for further legal action if necessary.

The outbreaks at both facilities involve the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant, which has been confirmed in 25 of Hamilton’s 36 active outbreaks.

Heritage Green was the site of Hamilton’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care home and also reported the city’s first deaths related to the virus back in March 2020.

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