Paramedics Handling COVID-19 Testing in Long-Term Care Homes

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Paramedics with Essex-Windsor EMS are lending a hand to help increase testing for COVID-19.

Paramedics have been visiting long-term care homes to test residents.

Deputy Chief Justin Lammers, says so far, they've tested 65 residents at one home that had confirmed cases of the virus.

Lammers says the effort is in partnership with Windsor Regional Hospital and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

"We did a lot of ground work with Windsor Regional Hospital and the health unit to create a medical directive where our community paramedics, they're outside of the frontline response doing more of the proactive education of the community, this medical directive allowed us to go in and collect COVID-19 specimen," he says.

Lammers says they've been shifting resources around to make the testing happen.

"Times are challenging. We're all operating in a different environment right now, but all of our staff have stepped up to the plate with great amounts of courage and are ready to take on COVID-19," he says. "We were able to get into the long-term care home and it went quite well."

There are more than 90 outbreaks in long-term care and retirement facilities across the province, including seven in Windsor-Essex.

The health unit says 10 of 13 deaths in this area have been residents of those sites.

Lammers adds that Essex-Windsor EMS is committed to supporting the directives of the health unit.

"This is everybody's fight. We're in it for the community and if we have the ability to help out, we're on deck," he says.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has laid out a plan to increase testing for COVID-19 to 14,000 tests per day by the end of April — the announcement came after figures showed the province's testing numbers were well below its capacity.

 

With files from Rob Hindi