Death toll rises at largest N.S. non-profit nursing home on ‘devastating’ day

Death toll rises at largest N.S. non-profit nursing home on 'devastating' day

HALIFAX — The largest non-profit nursing home in Nova Scotia is reporting two more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total to five in two days, amidst what the premier described as “a devastating day” in the province.

Premier Stephen McNeil made his comment after saying he was “grieving” for the small village of Portapique after an armed man rampaged through the community.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said the situation at Northwood’s long-term care facility also made Sunday “a very sad day in multiple ways.”

Strang said the two 20-bed special units to treat COVID-19 are now full, and some residents with the illness are in the same rooms as residents who haven’t shown symptoms.

He said he’s hopeful that more space will open up as residents who’ve recovered are sent to a local hotel, opening up space to isolate residents who’ve tested positive for the virus.

The managers of the 485-person Halifax long-term care facility have long lobbied for residents to have private rooms, and have suggested having multiple residents in the same room has contributed to the virus spreading.

McNeil said an emergency plan has been implemented to shift the recovered residents out of the residence and medical staff will care for them at the hotel.

In addition, other nursing homes were donating special beds and protective equipment, and testing will continue to be conducted on site.

The Halifax Infirmary’s COVID-19 treatment unit is being redeployed from the hospital to the long-term care facility to treat with those who are seriously ill.

There are over 40 health care workers who are being added to the staff.

Strang described the spread of the illness through Northwood as a tragic situation.

“That’s five families who are grieving today who will not be able to see their loved one again,” he said.

In total, there are eight long-term care facilities with 93 instances of positive tests of residents and 54 staff who’ve tested positive.

Strang said the majority of those cases are at the Northwood facility’s Halifax campus.

There are now 675 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, with 11 in hospital and four in intensive care. Over 21,000 have tested negative for the virus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2020.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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