Ongwanada experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks at three residences

The Ongwanada building on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston. Image via Ongwanada website.

Update and clarification (Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021)

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health has now provided clarification with regard to the discrepancies surrounding the number of cases involved in the current COVID-19 outbreaks at Ongwanada community residences.

According to KFL&A Public Health, the “not specified” populations referred to in its listing those outbreaks includes both residents of the group homes, as well as those who contracted the COVID-19 virus at the locations during the outbreaks. Therefore, the number of Ongwanada resident cases are not listed by KFL&A Public Health.

For its part, Ongwanada maintains there are five cases among its residents between all three of its facilities currently experiencing outbreaks, one of which is outside of the KFL&A region.

With the updated COVID-19 data via KFL&A Public Health for Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, the current outbreaks at Ongwanada community residences within KFL&A can be broken down as follows:

The outbreak at one of the homes involves seven cases among staff members, and 15 cases among the not specified population (residents and those who contracted the virus at the home) This represents a rise of two cases within this outbreak. The outbreak at the other Ongwanada home within KFL&A involves one case among staff members, and five cases among the not specified population. The number of cases involved in this outbreak remains the same as reported yesterday.

KFL&A Public Health is still listing the outbreak at an Ongwanada facility that began in late November as active, with three active cases, however, Ongwanada said that outbreak is now officially over.

Original article

Ongwanada, a local non-profit service and resource provider for those with developmental disabilities, is currently dealing with extensive COVID-19 outbreaks at three of its facilities.

The outbreaks began when a large group of staff members (over 20) from Ongwanada attended a social gathering, unsanctioned by the organization, on the weekend of Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. The three community residences affected – which are referred to as “group homes” on the COVID-19 dashboard updated daily by Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health – are currently locked down, Ongwanada said on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. All of the residents currently experiencing active cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, the local service provider expressed.

Ongwanada said the first case of COVID-19 was detected within one of its residences on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.

According to data from KFL&A Public Health, outbreaks were declared at two group homes in the region on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, and those two group homes currently have a combined 26 cases of COVID-19 among both unspecified populations and staff – 13 of an not specified populations and seven staff members at one residence, and five of an not specified population and one staff member at the other.

However, Ongwanada maintains that the organization is currently dealing with positive COVID-19 cases among “five supported individuals,” and did not say there are more cases involved at their three community residences currently experiencing outbreaks. The third community residence currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak is not within the KFL&A region, Ongwanada said, but rather in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark (LGL) District. The “five supported individuals in total that are positive and asymptomatic,” are individuals that “live in three separate homes,” Ongwanada, said, insinuating that there are five cases in total between the three affected residences.

 The third group home outbreak listed on the KFL&A Public Health dashboard is also an outbreak within an Ongwanada facility, which began on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. While the KFL&A Public Health dashboard currently lists that outbreak as ongoing with three active cases of COVID-19, Ongwanada said that the outbreak is officially over as of today, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021.

“Unfortunately, [we] cannot speak to the discrepancies on the dashboard or how the numbers are reported,” Ongwanada said in an email, referring to the 21-case discrepancy between the number of COVID-19 cases reported by Ongwanada in its residences within KFL&A, and the number of cases reported in those same outbreaks by KFL&A Public Health.

Ongwanada would not comment on the number of cases among members of its staff.

Ongwanada, who is working in partnership with KFL&A Public Health to contain these outbreaks, said that the initial cause of these new outbreaks was the social gathering, and that the subsequent spread between its three group homes was due to affected staff attending those homes.

“I can confirm that approximately 20 Ongwanada staff members attended an unsanctioned social gathering, despite being asked by the organization on numerous occasions to be mindful of activities they partake in outside of work due to the current rate of spread within the community,” said Courtney Murphy, Communications and Fundraising Director Coordinator for Ongwanada.

“This is undoubtedly an unfortunate situation and is a learning opportunity for all parties involved; it truly illustrates how transmissible this virus is and how quickly it can spread.”

Internal communications from Ongwanada CEO Alistair Lamb to staff of the organization show that Ongwanada was aware of the social gathering leading to the spread of COVID-19 through its facilities almost immediately after the cases were detected.

“This get-together was not a work-sanctioned event; however, it has directly impacted the entire organization and the people we support. The implications of this event are far-reaching,” Lamb wrote to Ongwanada employees on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, two days after the outbreaks were declared.

“To say I am extremely disappointed upon hearing this is an understatement… Each of us has to seriously consider the impact of our actions and decisions since these can, directly and indirectly, impact so many people negatively.”

Ongwanada said that the families of all its supported individuals who have been impacted by the outbreaks have been contacted. And with three outbreaks totaling 27 cases, Ongwanada said they continue to be in close contact with KFL&A Public Health, and that they continue their infection protection and control (IPAC) best practices in an attempt to stop the spread and keep residents and staff safe and healthy.

“The safety of our supported individuals, our staff, and the community is of the utmost importance, and we continue to follow all infection prevention control measures. Staff is required to wear full PPE (personal protective equipment) at all times across the organization,” Ongwanada communicated, noting that full PPE for Ongwanada staff includes Level 2 face masks, face shields and goggles, gowns, and gloves where required.

“Frequent disinfecting of high-touch surfaces is also occurring in homes. Further, we provide staff with rapid antigen tests and conduct PCR testing for any staff who may be a High-risk close contact in the community or are experiencing symptoms.”

KFL&A Public Health did not respond to requests for information regarding these outbreaks by time of publication.

Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.

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