COVID-19 outbreak declared over at one of Ontario’s worst-hit nursing homes

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TORONTO — A COVID-19 outbreak at one of Ontario’s worst-hit nursing homes has finally come to an end.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Lakeridge Health announced that a two-month long outbreak of the novel coronavirus at Orchard Villa in Pickering, Ont. has been declared over.

The determination was made after no new cases of the disease were reported at either the long-term care home or the retirement home in the last two weeks.

“Today marks a meaningful moment for residents at Orchard Villa, their family, friends and loved ones and everyone who has been supporting the efforts to fight the outbreak,” Susan deRyk, Interim President and CEO of the facility, said in a statement.

“The effects of the outbreak have been devastating for the entire Orchard Villa community and it will take significant time to heal. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to everyone who has lost a family member, a loved one or a friend at the home to this terrible disease.”

More than 70 residents died after contracting COVID-19 and more than 300 tested positive for the disease. Close to 100 staff members have also been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The facility was one of five Ontario long-term care homes that were the subject of a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report outlining “gut-wrenching” conditions.

In the report, the military said that cockroaches and flies were “present” at Orchard Villa and that the hallway outside a patient’s room smelled of rotten food.

In one of the more serious allegations, the report said that personal support workers and nurses weren’t always sitting residents up while feeding them or giving them medication. In one observed incident “that appeared to have contributed in patient death,” the report said.

The following day the Ontario government announced that Orchard Villa, in addition to four other privately-owned long-term care homes, would be placed under provincial management.

In total, eight facilities across the province have been placed under provincial management in an effort to get a handle on major outbreaks.

Lakeridge Health, a hospital network in Durham Region that took over management of Orchard Villa following the province’s emergency order, said that significant improvements to infection control, staffing, and education have been made.

“These measures, along with rigorous cleaning and disinfection of all parts of the residence, prevented further contamination and spread of the virus,” their statement reads.

Family members of residents living at Orchard Villa have filed a $40 million class-action lawsuit alleging the facility’s negligence led to the severe COVID-19 outbreak.

The document makes damning accusations against the home, claiming it failed to follow provincial guidelines to keep residents and staff safe.

“The stories of what occurred at Orchard Villa over the past two months are shocking and heartbreaking,” the lawsuit’s lead lawyer Gary Will said in a statement released on May 26. “This tragedy did not need to happen and should never be allowed to happen in the future.”

The outbreak was declared at Orchard Villa long-term care home on April 3 and in the retirement home on April 9.

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