Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health is working with the long-term care homes in the region to assist surveillance testing at those facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes after the recently-released Ontario Ministry of Health’s enhanced testing guidelines, meant to help protect the vulnerable populations living in long-term care facilities during the pandemic. The Ministry of Health announcement included the immediate proactive surveillance testing of all residents and staff in long-term care homes, regardless of symptoms. The tests is intended to provide a better understanding of the prevalence of COVID-19 within long-term care homes in the province, particularly among those who are minimally symptomatic and might otherwise have gone undetected with the routine symptom testing that has been employed until now. According to Public Health, the testing is also meant to help inform future planning to ensure resources are available to protect those in long-term care.
Public Health and the long-term care facilities in the region are taking a phased approach to this process. This takes into consideration the ability of long-term care homes to conduct the COVID-19 testing on their staff and residents, as well as the capacity of local labs to process large volumes of tests, and the availability of supplies, such as swabs and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The phased approach also considers the process for receiving test results and how results will be aggregated and reported, KFL&A Public Health said in a press release on Monday, May 4, 2020.
“To date, the testing process has gone well for everyone involved. It has been a true team effort with staff and management at our local Long-term care homes, and with our partners, Frontenac Paramedics and Lennox & Addington County General Hospital,” said Kelly Monaghan, Chief Nursing Officer & Director of Professional Practice and Quality at KFL&A Public Health.
According to Monaghan, this testing process began on Wednesday, Apr. 29 and is scheduled to be complete by Friday, May 15, 2020, however, she cautioned that the completion timeline is “highly dependent on continued access to adequate supplies.”
The Ministry of Health Command Table announcement on the COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes also included recruitment initiatives to increase human resources in long-term care homes, and performing risk assessments to help ensure long-term care homes have the supports and resources required during the pandemic.
For more information from KFL&A Public Health on the COVID-19 pandemic locally, click here.