Health Sciences North physicians who specialize in senior care and Sudbury Community Paramedics are helping staff at Amberwood Suites in hopes of curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“Community paramedics will go in and will bring us in by telemedicine -- we’re able to do a medical assessment, check vitals, have a discussion about their medical needs, their care needs,” said geriatrician Dr. Jo-Anne Clarke.

“We discuss goals of care, and if things do progress, how they would like to be treated. If needed, we can arrange a direct admission to the hospital.”

Amberwood Suites has had six residents die from COVID-19, which has lead to a different daily routine inside the residence.

Clarke told CTV News vital social events at retirement homes can’t happen right now, due to the risk of spreading the virus.

'How do we keep people’s spirits up?'

“Group social events, group meals … those were the benefits of congregated living, and now those are not happening in many cases," she said. “How do we keep people’s spirits up?”

“It’s become a focus, it’s something they are very aware of. And it’s definitely something they are trying to incorporate despite the challenges,” added Clarke.

Before the pandemic, Clarke said she was encouraging people to consider places like long-term care homes and retirement residences if it was in their loved ones best interest.

Since COVID-19, Clarke has been having very different conversations.

“What COVID has done is certainly given us pause on weighing the pros and cons of institutional living,” she said.

“We can see that in these times, it is challenging to keep the virus out of congregate care facilities, and when it does come in, it can really be devastating.”

CTV News reached out to Amberwood Suites for comment but no one was made available.

The retirement residence did release a statement that said:

“We are profoundly saddened by the COVID-19 cases and deaths that have occurred within our residence. Our thoughts and condolences go out to their loved ones during this exceptionally difficult time. The team at Amberwood Suites stands united and remains committed to our diligent efforts to promote the health and well-being of our residents.”

Clarke said long-term care homes are still essential for those with chronic disease, frailty or dementia.