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Northwood to move recovered residents back in; plan on long-term care home visits expected soon
HALIFAX -- As Nova Scotia’s economy starts to reopen, the COVID-19 battle at Northwood continues.
"We still don't have a really great explanation of what exactly went wrong at Northwood,” said Chris Parsons of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition.
To date, 53 residents have died at the long-term facility in Halifax.
More than 190 other residents have recovered from COVID-19, but one resident and one staff member are still fighting the virus.
Parsons has concerns about reopening the economy while there are still active cases in the province and at Northwood.
"People didn't think the disease could get into Northwood from the outside. My concern now is that we're going to have the exact opposite problem, which is that there's a belief that the disease can't get out of Northwood into the wider community,” said Parsons.
Northwood says all residents continue to be regularly tested for COVID-19.
In a video posted to the facility’s website, CEO Janet Simm said they are now looking to move some residents who were temporarily moved out, back in.
"We are in talks to start returning the recovered residents who have been staying at the offsite hotel recovery unit back to their home in Halifax,” said Simm.
At the height of the pandemic, a large number of Northwood staff were off with the virus and staff from the Halifax Infirmary were brought in to help out.
The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union says its members who were mandated to work at Northwood have finished that work and those members are in a mandatory 14-day isolation before returning to their shifts at the hospital.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says a team from the Department of Health and Wellness remains on site.
"The staffing challenges have been resolved, have been that way for several weeks,” said Strang.
There are now six floors in the Centre building at Northwood that are considered recovered and residents on those floors are able to have scheduled, escorted visits outside.
"When it comes to hosting visitors, we are currently in the planning phase of a family visitation program. We are carefully looking at the logistics, safety and PPE [personal protective equipment] requirements. We will be ready when the medical officer of health approves this program,” said Simm in the video update.
Strang says he hopes to have more details around long-term care home visits as early as next week.