Second death confirmed at facility for vulnerable adults with COVID-19 outbreak
TORONTO -- An Ontario facility supporting adults with developmental and physical disabilities, where the majority of residents have contracted COVID-19, has experienced its second death related to the outbreak.
The first death was confirmed by Markham Stouffville Hospital in a statement, sent on behalf of the family.
According to the family, 58-year-old Martin Frogley, a resident at Participation House, passed away on Wednesday morning. The facility confirmed that Frogley was diagnosed with COVID-19.
“He passed peacefully listening to music he loved. He was a wonderful son, uncle and the best brother anyone could ever ask for,” the family said. “Thanks to all staff at the Participation House for their exceptional care and to the staff at Markham Stouffville Hospital for making things comfortable for him on his last days.”
The second death at the facility was confirmed by the brother of the victim.
Earl Baird told CTV News Toronto that his sister Patricia “Patty” Baird tested positive for the virus on Monday.
He said the 53-year-old lived at participation house for five years and died at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.
“We all know of this dreadful virus and now our family has been personally affected,” he wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. “I cannot describe the pure love and a heart that our universe could not contain that was within Patty.”
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti tweeted out his condolences Wednesday night.
"This is a tragic loss. Our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones, our thoughts are with them. Our hearts are broken," he wrote.
"The residents and staff at Participation House deserve our support and we have an obligation to do everything within our power to provide that support."
As of Tuesday evening, 37 of the 42 residents at Participation House tested positive for COVID-19. Twelve staff members who worked at the facility have also been diagnosed with the virus.
Three residents were transferred to Markham Stouffville Hospital and an additional resident, who was removed from the facility last week, is also at the hospital being treated for COVID-19.
Participation House has been plagued with a staffing shortage ever since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus was declared at the facility on Thursday evening.
Executive Director Shelly Brillinger said that their workforce had been “slowly trickling away” over the past few weeks. On a regular day, prior to the outbreak, Brillinger said the facility would employ eight personal support workers (PSWs) and one nurse per shift.
Speaking on Monday, she said there was a shift where only two PSWs and an additional nurse were available.
Markham Stouffville Hospital said they have assembled a “rapid response team” to support Participation House, including patient care and HR support to help with staffing needs. They are also providing meals for residents as well as personal protective equipment.
On Wednesday, the Ontario government announced their enhanced plan to fight COVID-19 in long-term care homes, where stricter testing and screening measures as well as ensuring facilities have enough personal protective equipment.
Group homes such as Participation House are not included under the new plan.
“Our announcement right now is about long-term care homes but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to put the resources into other areas,” Ford said, indicating that further measures will be launched in the coming days. “My heart breaks for these people.”
A spokesperson for Social Services Minister Todd Smith’s Office said they are working with Participation House to ensure they have the resources they need.
"Our regional team worked closely with Participation House over the weekend to ensure staff are in place and that all steps are being taken to protect staff and residents," the minister's office said. "The agency currently has staff onsite to support their residents, including personal support workers and a nurse. Management staff and the local hospital have also stepped in to provide support as we continue to find additional staff."