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Union representing staff at Hamilton’s Grace Villa describes ‘horrible’ outbreak

Posted: December 19, 2020

(December 18, 2020)

By: Ken Mann, 900 CHML Global News

21 residents of Grace Villa have died of COVID-19, since an outbreak was declared Nov 25.

21 residents of Grace Villa have died of COVID-19, since an outbreak was declared Nov 25.

A union representative for long-term care workers at Grace Villa — the site of Hamilton’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak — has offered a glimpse inside the embattled home.

Ricardo McKenzie with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) calls the situation at Grace Villa “horrible.”

McKenzie says the staffing had reached a “crisis” level, prior to Hamilton Health Sciences temporarily taking over operations of the East Mountain facility earlier this week, under a 90-day, voluntary management contract.

McKenzie describes deplorable conditions, including “IV bags that are left on the floors, residents in feces not being cleaned.”

Within the 184-bed facility, McKenzie says, a combined total of 173 residents and staff of Grace Villa have been infected with COVID-19, 21 of the residents have died.

He says workers have asked for testing of the home’s ventilation system, “because they couldn’t explain for themselves, why the hell the virus is spreading so rapidly.”

McKenzie says they don’t know yet if the operator will comply with that request.

He adds that front-line staff are “holding the ship afloat, but unfortunately, they’re very tired.”

The snapshot of the situation at Grace Villa came during the Ontario Health Coalition’s release of a survey of members who are working within long-term care homes that have experienced large outbreaks.

OHC Executive Director Natalie Mehra said less than 30 per cent of those on the front lines say they have “enough staffing to provide daily hands-on care to residents.”

Among the other findings, said Mehra, 14.7 per cent of respondents said that COVID-19-positive but asymptomatic staff are being required to work and 14.6 per cent said COVID-19-positive residents are not being separated from those who are not infected with the virus.

The coalition’s survey involved employees at dozens of long-term care homes across Ontario, including Grace Villa.

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