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The City and local health partners make recommendations to Province regarding COVID outbreak management in congregate care settings

HAMILTON, ON – The City of Hamilton, along with local health partners, have put forward a set of recommendations to the Ontario Health – West region of the Province regarding the prevention and management of COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate care settings, following a serious outbreak at the Rosslyn Retirement Home in Hamilton last week.

The recommendations aim to provide clarity around the accountabilities and critical actions required in the effective management of an outbreak situation in settings including retirement and long-term care homes, which have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recommendations are the result of a debrief between key partners involved in the Rosslyn crisis response, including the City of Hamilton, Hamilton Public Health, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, LHIN Home and Community Care, and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).

“The severity of the situation at the Rosslyn Retirement Residence can not be understated,” says Rob MacIsaac, chair of the Hamilton-Niagara-Haldimand-Brant regional pandemic command table and chief executive officer at HHS. “We have carefully reviewed the series of events and feel it is our collective duty to share our findings and recommendations with the Province so that we can do better by those living in congregate care settings across Ontario.”

The recommendations call for:

  • Immediate testing of residents and healthcare workers in high-risk retirement homes with a plan to spread to other high-risk congregate settings
  • Proactive identification of an alternate healthcare facility that a home can access in a crisis situation
  • Clearer accountability, roles, and responsibilities of those who operate and work in congregate settings
  • Basic standards and requirements of physicians who provide care to residents in congregate settings
  • Formal structure at municipal level to oversee these kinds of required decants/actions
  • Completion of functional assessments in congregate settings to review things such as administrative structures, medication systems, medical model, etc.
  • Hospitals to back each other up as needed to be able to respond to non-crisis requests from congregate settings outside of their municipality. 
  • A line of sight to role and accountability of regulatory bodies for retirement homes
  • Development of a more formal infrastructure to support congregate settings to ensure a coordinated health system response to the pandemic

 “We’re grateful to all the partners that came together to respond and provide support during this emergency situation,” said Paul Johnson, the City of Hamilton’s EOC Director who also supports the broader health sector work of the Ontario Health West Command structure. “We look forward to implementing the recommendations within a local context and working with the province to address the broader concerns in congregate living settings.”

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