Friday, May 15 – GUELPH —Guelph and area healthcare partners are celebrating the end of four COVID-19 outbreaks at retirement and long-term care homes in Guelph and area thanks to strong partnerships among local healthcare organizations and leadership from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. COVID-19 was the first major test for core partners that comprise the new Guelph & Area Ontario Health Team (G&A OHT).
“As healthcare facilities, we are familiar with outbreaks but the severity and risk posed by COVID-19 represented a new level and we have been able to work together to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens,” says David Wormald, President, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph. “We were able to provide support and expertise of partner organizations on the frontline of healthcare and I think it’s through this cooperation that we are faring so well in our community.”
In November 2019, Guelph & Area was one of 24 regions selected by the province to develop an Ontario Health Team, a new model of organizing and delivering health care. The G&A OHT was still in the early stages of building its partnership when COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“The impact of COVID-19 on our communities reaches into each of our homes. The response of health care workers in our area has been greatly enhanced by working within the Guelph and Area Ontario Health Team,” said Dr. Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. “The OHT leadership has ensured excellent community cooperation and effective impact amongst local health care and social service organizations.”
“Thankfully we had already established strong foundations of trust and cooperation and it paid off when we needed it,” says Emmi Perkins, Director of Transformation, G&A OHT. “We were able to quickly coordinate our efforts to respond to the needs of our community partners including the collection and redeployment of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all of our frontline healthcare workers. Our partners did incredible work to keep their staff and residents protected from this infection.”
Through the G&A OHT model, partners were also able to share their expertise and resources with those that needed additional support. Experts in infection control and prevention – including staff from WDG Public Health, Guelph General Hospital, the Elliott Community and St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph – were able to offer training and support to partners that were less experienced or prepared. The team also built a central database of trained staff and was able to reallocate workers where they were needed. Additionally, daily huddles allowed for quick and efficient information-sharing and problem-solving. With those supports in place, the team was then positioned to support other COVID-related initiatives, including early establishment of the COVID-19 assessment centre, and universal COVID-19 testing of every staff and resident in congregate care facilities.
“Residents in long-term care and retirement settings are among our community’s most vulnerable, and we are all motivated to keep them safe,” says Michelle Karker, CEO of The Elliott Community. “The fight against COVID-19 isn’t over but now we are better positioned to work as a community on next steps which will include evaluating our residents’ overall health and planning a coordinated approach to safely re-introducing visitors to our facilities when Pubic Health advises us the timing is right.”
For information about COVID-19 information in our community visit https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/your-health/covid-19-information-public/status-cases-wdg