Forest Heights Long Term Care Home in Kitchener, Ontario, has been battling an extremely challenging COVID-19 outbreak with the support and guidance of Region of Waterloo Public Health and the support of area hospitals. The outbreak has shown signs of slowing and stabilizing, however we have had additional positive tests over the week.

The outbreak has been complex and challenging to manage in an old home with ward-style rooms and shared bathrooms. The devastating effect of the pandemic has been emotionally and physically exhausting for the staff and the management team.

With a singular focus to prevent further illness and loss of life, we welcome the Mandatory Management Order (MMO), which will provide some much-needed support for exhausted leaders at the site who have worked tirelessly under extremely stressful circumstances to try to stop the spread of this devastating virus. We stand united with the Ministry in the goal of ending this outbreak, and will work closely together with them and St. Mary’s General Hospital, to safeguard the health of our residents from COVID-19.

We want to honour the outstanding contributions of our leaders and our frontline staff at Forest Heights—the nurses, PSWs, dietary aides and the recreation, environmental, culinary and administrative teams who have been working fearlessly and tirelessly to care for our residents during the home’s pandemic outbreak. Now as always, our first priority is the health and well-being of our residents and employees.

We welcome a time when we can look back and reflect on these events with the benefit of hindsight. We look forward to working with governments, public health officials, sector partners, residents, families and employees in a rigorous review of the pandemic and the lessons to be learned from it to improve the long term care sector.

Right now, our energy and resources are focused on the present – and on working with the team at St. Mary’s Hospital to contain the spread of this outbreak and protect our residents and staff.

We have been encouraged by the outpouring of support we have been getting from the community, and from the families and friends of our residents in these difficult times.