Second COVID-related death at Fairhaven and five infected residents in isolation as outbreak continues

'Incredibly heinous' virus creating 'a lot of fear' admits home's executive director, but focus now is on stopping it in its tracks

Fairhaven is a municipal long-term care home facility located at 881 Dutton Road in Peterborough. (Photo: Fairhaven)
Fairhaven is a municipal long-term care home facility located at 881 Dutton Road in Peterborough. (Photo: Fairhaven)

An outbreak of COVID-19 at Fairhaven Long-Term Care in Peterborough has resulted in the death of a second resident in just two days, and the isolation of five additional residents who have tested positive for the virus.

During the weekly Peterborough Public Health briefing held Thursday (November 12), Fairhaven executive director Lionel Towns confirmed all of the infected residents, who reside in the Westview 2 Area, are isolated in Fairhaven’s Great Room — which was converted earlier into an isolation unit sealed off from the rest of the facility.

“Fairhaven has lost two of our residents which has devastated our staff and, of course, their families during this already bleak period,” said Towns.

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“Out of an abundance of caution, all residents in the Westview 2 Area are in isolation and all of our support staff are cohorted with this home area. For the remainder of the home, there is a strict plan of cohorting of staff. Our goal is stop the spread not just within the Westview 2 Area but also the other home areas.”

“We’re not expecting any more (positive cases) but there could be,” Towns added. “We feel we’re on the right track to capping the number but the virus is incredibly heinous. We’re trying now to protect people based on when they could have been exposed.”

The effect of the pandemic, and now the outbreak, on both Fairhaven staff and residents is clear, said Towns.

“They’re scared and they’re tired of the pandemic, wishing they were out of the isolation that they’re feeling and going back to pre-pandemic times. They’re missing interactions with each other and their families. It’s very tough on them. There’s no way of sugarcoating it. There’s a lot of fear.”

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In an email sent Wednesday morning to residents’ families, Towns noted “the terrible darkness” in the aftermath of the death of a second Fairhaven resident Tuesday night, crediting his staff for their “immense bravery and dedication” as they care for residents day to day.

“We went through several months of nothing and now we’re in the middle of one (an outbreak),” added Towns.

“Everybody’s a bit numb. We felt we had prepared extremely well. There was a lot of confidence amongst staff and our residents and their families. Frustrating is too weak a word.”

“We’ve had to look at the situation and try to move two steps forward and implement plans to ensure people are safe depending on what we think could happen.”

In addition to the five active Fairhaven resident cases, a caregiver also tested positive. Towns confirmed that individual is not a Fairhaven employee but provided no further details.

Westview 2 is the same unit that was visited by the caregiver, who tested positive on October 31st, prompting Peterborough Public Health to declare an outbreak at the home.

The two deaths that have resulted from this outbreak bring to four the number of COVID-related deaths in Peterborough Public Health’s catchment area of Peterborough city and county, Curve Lake, and Hiawatha.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday (November 11), the region has seen a total of 164 total positive cases — an increase of 12 since last week. There are a total of 11 active cases, including the eight associated with the Fairhaven outbreak. In addition, public health staff are currently following 10 close contacts who are at higher risk of contracting the virus due to their contact with an infected person.

While Peterborough Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra admits to being “worried” in regards to the Fairhaven outbreak, she expressed her “full confidence in Fairhaven.”

“They (Fairhaven staff) have always taken infection prevention control very seriously. There is optimism that we can bring this under control but, at same time, recognizing the extreme vulnerability of these residents.”