COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
How can family members get more information about the long-term care home’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The most accurate, up-to-date information is available on our website. In addition family members receive our monthly long-term care Newsletter, information updates by email from their Yee Hong Centre and frequent calls about their loved ones from the clinical team. Family members can also book Video Chat sessions on our website to speak directly with their loved ones.
Yee Hong leaders also host regular teleconferences for families of our residents. Hundreds of family members/friends of residents dial in to hear the latest pandemic update and information from nursing management and a Medical Director. This includes new and existing safety measures, visiting policies, testing requirement, recent test outcomes including any outbreak details (if any), changes to our building access policies and treatment plans in the event of a positive test. Our team takes questions on topics submitted by family members, and many of the most common questions are included in this list.
When can families visit Yee Hong again? Can they drop off food items, fruit, flowers, magazines, toiletries and mementos for their loved ones?
The Ontario government gradually lifted its visitor ban after the pandemic’s first wave, then tightened the restrictions again in Fall 2020. When the pandemic’s second wave recedes and the government says it is safe to do so we’ll welcome general visitors back to Yee Hong after so many months apart.
Family members may drop off care packages (please no food or valuables) and clothing for their loved ones. Yee Hong staff will be assigned to clean and disinfect special dropped off items before we deliver them to resident floors. Detailed instructions and drop-off times are on the website.
Can families have more FaceTime sessions each week/on weekends/for longer conversations?
Video Chat is an extremely popular service that requires a team in each Yee Hong Centre to support it. To accommodate high demand we rotate from one scheduled call to the next on half-hour intervals from Monday to Friday.
Each home handles an average of 100 video chat requests from families every week. This includes contacting each family to schedule a suitable date and time for the chat, tracking confirmed sessions in a log to avoid double-booking, connecting the technology on the day, and getting the resident ready with the help of PSWs and nurses. Video chats typically run 15 – 20 minutes in length. We accommodate requests for a special day or time as often as we can. The service will gradually reduce as family visits gradually resume.
What happens if the resident needs to leave the premise to see a doctor or dentist for emergency visits?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, residents see their doctors via Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) eVisit. Dental offices are working with their regulatory bodies and public health to put safety measure in place so that they can reopen. If a resident requires immediate dental care the home will make arrangements. For emergency cases, the Medical Director will visit the resident at Yee Hong and if necessary, make arrangements with the Executive Director to transfer the resident to a hospital emergency room. Upon return from hospital or any outside appointment, the resident will be placed in an isolation unit for 14 days. Family of the resident will be kept informed during an emergency.
Are haircuts, perms and hair wash services available?
All non-essential businesses, including hair salons, have been suspended since March. While hair-washing is part of regular baths our residents receive, haircuts and other grooming are not.
In some cases PSWs, nurses and re-deployed staff members have the skills to cut hair and have offered to do this for our residents. Check the Good News page of our website to learn more about these exceptional and talented employees who help residents to keep them happy and tidy. Unfortunately, perms will have to wait.
We’re working on a safe and practical way to resume hair care services once the province reopens for these services.
Do you have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, gowns and masks?
Yee Hong has the PPE we need right now. Our stockpile is sufficient for many weeks at the rate we currently use safety supplies across the whole organization. We also have back orders pending with our existing suppliers and a new supplier has been identified with stock available for shipment. Donors are coming forward to offer their PPE, and as a healthcare facility we can access provincial and national reserves of PPE and other essential supplies. We’re prepared should outbreaks occur, and we’re monitoring our inventory carefully to keep up with changes in our demand as new circumstances arise.
Yee Hong is also a system partner and we depend on other healthcare institutions to safely manage COVID-19 when it enters their facilities. For this reason we redirected a donation of supplies to another long-term care home in crisis, and we have offered to share some expired safety products (which are still safe to use) in our stockpile that would be replenished later by the Ontario government. The Health Ministry is coordinating these exchanges to eliminate temporary and local shortages, and we’re glad to help defeat the virus here in Ontario. Because we can’t guess how long the pandemic will threaten our seniors, we welcome your donations of PPE and safety supplies. Contact the Yee Hong Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to help.
On April 14 the provincial government ordered long-term care staff to work at only one location. Will you have enough staff when this policy takes effect?
Yee Hong adopted a “One Employer Policy” weeks ago, on March 23, when we asked anyone working for two or more healthcare employers to choose only one during the pandemic as a public health precaution. Many part-timers picked Yee Hong and we offered increased hours and FT opportunities. We also asked staff to disclose part-time work they do outside of healthcare, and those jobs are reviewed with the employee to assess their risk of exposure to the virus.
After a short transition period at the end of March, potential cross-organization infection between workplaces has been curtailed by the one employer pandemic policy. The recent experience of our Markham and McNicoll Centres is proof our proactive strategy improves safety for our residents and staff: two employees who tested positive for COVID-19 were exposed in March during outbreaks in other long-term care facilities. With the 14-day incubation period now past, this risk has been eliminated from our long-term care centres.
What has Yee Hong done to protect residents?
The health and safety of residents and staff are our top priority. As the situation around COVID-19 evolves, management has put in place precautionary measures according to instructions from Public Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care as they come in. The following is what management has implemented to date:
- A COVID-19 Task Force has been formed with senior clinical and administrative leaders to streamline pandemic decision-making and to organize our communications internally and externally
- Front door screening for staff, physicians and visitors including temperature checks
- Visitor policy has been changed to restrict non-essential visits
- Non-essential and support staff are redeployed to support resident care where possible
- To practice social distancing, face-to-face meetings are replaced with teleconferencing where possible. Administrative and non-essential staff are asked to work from home
- New video chat and other electronic connections in place to support regular contact between residents and their families.
I heard that you are testing staff members suspected for COVID-19. Is that true?
Positive tests are on our mind now that community spread of COVID-19 occurs throughout the Greater Toronto Area. When there is suspected contact for Yee Hong employees, swabs are sent to Public Health for pandemic surveillance. While we wait for the result, and where COVID-19 exposure is suspected, we instruct the employee and his/her close contacts to self-isolate. We implement our outbreak protocol on any units that might be affected and notify residents and family members to explain the change. If the test shows no COVID-19, the measures are lifted.
We have implemented a comprehensive pandemic plan which we routinely adjust as we and the entire health care sector learns more about this virus. The safety of our seniors and our employees will continue to be our highest priority.
Will family members be notified in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case at Yee Hong?
Yes. Yee Hong will inform families as soon as possible regarding any positive cases and provide information about what steps the home is taking to manage the outbreak in collaboration with public health department.
What do you do when a staff member is suspected for COVID-19?
Everyone who works in an Ontario long-term care home is tested every week to identify the virus as early as possible should our staff be affected. Starting the 16th of February, every staff member will be screened for COVID-19 two or three times a week using a point-of-care test. Essential visitors will also be tested every time they arrive at the home using a point-of-care test. In between tests each of us is monitoring our own health for symptoms of COVID-19, and when we don’t feel well we stay home. Each Centre is constantly monitoring staff sick calls and our entrances and exits to be sure people with symptoms of illness do not enter our homes.
Positive tests are occurring within our workforce because community spread of COVID-19 occurs throughout the Greater Toronto Area. When there is suspected contact for Yee Hong employees, swabs are sent to Public Health for pandemic surveillance. While we wait for the result, and where COVID-19 exposure is suspected, we instruct the employee and his/her close contacts to self-isolate in their own homes. We implement our outbreak protocol on any units that might be affected and notify residents and family members to explain the change. If the resident tests show no COVID-19, the measures are lifted.
We have implemented a comprehensive pandemic plan which we routinely adjust as we and the entire health care sector learns more about this virus. The safety of our seniors and our employees will continue to be our highest priority. We also have a pandemic staffing plan, which ensures appropriate staffing and cohorting of staff and residents.
What are the risks to other residents living on the same floor as a resident with COVID-19?
In the event of a positive test, we put enhanced isolation measures in place immediately on the affected floor. That can include isolation units to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. We cohort our staff into separate work teams to stop contaminants from spreading from one work area to another, we deep clean the entire building and sanitize high-touch surfaces more often as part of our outbreak protocol. These measures would be in addition to the precautions already in place to protect our residents from the global pandemic.
Do resident programs and activities continue without volunteers?
Yes. In view of Ministry’s directive to restrict non-essential visits to the homes, management has made temporary arrangements to re-assign staff members from Community and professional Services to the LTC homes. Their presence helps fill the service gap and hopefully mitigate the impact on residents’ emotional health during the increased isolation resulted from the Ministry’s banning all visitors/families from entering long-term care homes.
What if I have symptoms of illness when I come to Yee Hong?
We discourage you from coming to Yee Hong if you have symptoms of illness. Anyone arriving at the screening desk must apply hand sanitizer before they begin the screening process. Anyone who presents at the screening desk with respiratory symptoms, cough or a body temperature greater than 37.5° C will be provided with a mask and not be allowed to enter the Yee Hong Centre.
I am a Yee Hong staff member, physician, or student. Where can I get the latest information that pertains to me?
Yee Hong staff should continue to check their Yee Hong email inboxes for the latest instructions from their supervisor or Chief. For those not on email, memos are always posted on all units, and sometimes we use our telephone fan-out process when a last-minute change occurs. Updates about building access and program status are available on the website.
I am a volunteer in the long-term care home. Do I continue with my work or should I stay home?
Under the directive of Public Health to restrict non-essential visits to long-term care homes, volunteers are not allowed in our homes at this time. Please contact the volunteer coordinator as there are remote volunteer opportunities available. Paid duties may also be possible for experienced volunteers under the government’s emergency policy and legislation.
What happens to the programs and services at Yee Hong and in the community during COVID-19?
The government’s instruction to restrict non-essential visitors from entering our long-term care homes has resulted in cancellation of many of our programs and services for seniors living in the community. Here is the list of services/programs affected:
- Day programs and congregate dining programs at all homes cancelled until further notice
- All active senior programs, including Macrobian Club classes
- Private home care
- Transportation services