How this Ontario long-term care home managed to stay COVID-19 free
TORONTO -- Residents, staff and families of a Richmond Hill, Ont. nursing home are crediting the facility's ability to stay COVID-19 free with the CEO's early adoption of many safety measures.
While many seniors’ homes have grappled with outbreaks of the novel coronavirus over the past few months, those connected to Mariann Home are singing the praises of Bernard Boreland.
“These people are very well taken care of,” Michelle Janzen, whose mother is a resident of the home, said. “There doesn't seem to be any problem here at all and it's the workers here that are making the big difference.”
Janzen said she was worried at first – her mother has Alzheimer’s disease – but she was reassured by the careful planning that went into all the measures that Boreland brought in.
First of all, Boreland said he recognized the dangers of the novel coronavirus much earlier than most similar facilities.
“I got word of that because we had two staff members in China at the time,” he said.
The staff members texted him and kept him posted about developments there and when they started asking him to send masks so they could share it with their relatives in China, he was alerted to the severity of the problem.
“It didn’t make sense to me because all of my masks come from China so what is the problem? So then I put two and two together.”
In mid-January, before Ontario recorded its first case of the disease, he already converted a basement dining area into a storage room and filled it with $10,000 worth of personal protective equipment he was able to purchase using some extra funds.
Boreland made sure staff members were only working at Mariann Home, instead of working at several facilities, which might increase the risk for virus transmission.
He even tried to arrange for a limo-type service for staff because he was worried about workers using public transit. That plan didn’t work out but he was able to arrange for staff to order groceries at work and have it delivered to their homes so they wouldn’t have to venture into public spaces.
Mariann Home Board Chair Juliann Martyniuk points out other creative measures Boreland initiated, when many other long-term care homes began isolating residents in their rooms.
“Bernard and staff brought in hallway dining so residents didn't eat in their rooms, they ate in the hallway so it was still social and from what I understand they loved it,” she said.
The results, she says, speak for themselves. While more than 80 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths were linked to nursing homes, Mariann Home didn’t see a single case among its 64 residents or their staff.
Dawn Gregory, whose mother celebrated a suitably-distanced birthday at Mariann Home recently, said the residence used new iPads to boost communications between residents, staff and loved ones.
Gregory told CTV News Toronto that she received Skype calls from the facility three times a week throughout the pandemic.
“I’ve spoken a lot with Bernard, the administrator, and he has reassured me continuously through the pandemic that he is aware of everything that was happening and he takes personal accountability to ensure everything goes well.”
But Boreland himself is modest. He’s been known to pick up a bucket of disinfectant to clean areas of the home himself.
“I don’t like to take credit for myself. We’re all a team, we’re all family here,” he said.