'We will shut you down!'

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'We will shut you down!'

• Tufton warns operators of private nursing homes • COVID-19 cases recorded at Mustard Seed Communities facility

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 23, 2020

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MINISTER of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton has issued a stern warning to operators of private nursing homes that they could be shuttered if they fail to comply with the Government-recommended prevention and control protocols to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

He issued this warning yesterday while revealing that over the past week, 16 of 111 staff members and 20 of 148 residents of the Mustard Seed Communities facility in St Catherine tested positive for the virus.

He said the St Catherine Health Department started surveillance after receiving a positive result for a staff member at the Jerusalem! home in Spanish Town, which is a property that serves as a residential care facility for children and adults with disabilities.

The infected residents have been isolated on site, according to the status of their symptoms, while all staff have been placed on home quarantine, the minister said. He also said that no one from the home has been hospitalised at this point.

Dr Tufton advised, too, that health teams visited 11 of 33 nursing homes in Waterford, St Catherine, during the 14-day period of special quarantine in the community, and three positive cases were identified at two of the homes at the start of surveillance. This prompted the decision to conduct testing at nursing homes in the Waterford, Bridgeport, Independence City, and Gregory Park areas of St Catherine, for 39 workers and 187 residents, the minister said. All have tested negative for the virus, according to Dr Tufton, and all the facilities were found to be in compliance with the protocols, except one.

“There are a number of these facilities that are not up to par, in terms of infection control prevention measure. Our public health officers continue to monitor and engage, and, where necessary, we will take action. We do have the authority to shut these facilities down. There is a dilemma, [however,] because when you shut down, where do you place these persons? But, if the situation is intolerable and the residents are at risk, then we will have no options but so to do and find alternative arrangements,” he said.

“I want to issue a caution, a warning, to operators of nursing homes, please follow the protocol because you're putting your livelihood and the lives of residents and your staff at risk. We will shut you down if we think that you are ignoring putting those measures in place,“ Tufton continued.

In the meantime, positive tests have been returned for 26 more people at The Golden Age Home in Vineyard Town, St Andrew. This brings to 69 the number of positive cases that have been found at the home, totalling 40 residents, 19 workers, and 10 individuals, whose identities have not yet been determined. The 26 new cases are all staff members, and 564 people from the home have been sampled so far.


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