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Regional health departments develop stronger ties during COVID-19

'These are the kinds of partnerships that will make our health system in Grey Bruce and provincially that much stronger and more responsive to the needs of clients, residents and citizens,' said Jennifer Cornell, executive director of long-term care for Grey County
2020_05_12 Grey County LTC committee_JG
Jennifer Cornell, executive director of the long-term care department for Grey County provided an update of activites to the Grey County LTC committee of management on May 12. Jennifer Golletz/CollingwoodToday

The collaboration that has taken place across the region during COVID-19 has made all the difference, says Jennifer Cornell executive director of long-term care in Grey County.

“The departments are working together, the teams in the homes are working together and the teams across the three homes are working together,” said Jennifer Cornell, executive director of long-term care for Grey County during a virtual LTC committee of management meeting held earlier today. “The partnerships have been incredible.”

Cornell says since the onset of COVID-19 she has seen increased community support and collaboration across all levels of health care.

She explains that the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit (GBHU), long-term care departments and area retirement homes have been actively holding weekly (virtual) meetings to seek out ways to better support each other.

“As a member of the South West Region Committee, my participation with this committee has allowed me to be involved in the creation of the South West Crisis Response Plan (SWCRP),” Cornell said. “This plan was introduced to provide a streamlined co-ordinated approach when called upon to help with retirement, long-term care, group homes, shelters, hospices and similar community congregate settings.”

In mid-April, the response plan was mobilized to support a London-area long-term care home with staff and personal protective equipment.

Area hospitals were also given direction to examine how they could support long-term care.

Cornell says South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Hanover District Hospital and Grey Bruce Health Services have reached out to the local long-term care homes, offering support in any identified areas, primarily with staffing shortages.

“I was invited to a call last week where the Grey Bruce Health services had 60 staff online who had put their hands up to say they would be willing to be re-deployed as a crisis response team into a long-term care facility in Grey Bruce if it was needed,” she said.

Grey County has also stepped up, re-deploying nearly 90 staff members to the long-term care department to create helpers and backups.

“Grey Gables is very grateful for the redeployed staff that we have. They have been excellent and doing a lot of our screening, helping with one-on-one virtual visits, helping set tables, and even fold laundry,” said Shannon Cox, executive director of Grey Gables.

The GBHU also created infectious control teams, assigning one team to each LTC home. According to Cornell, these teams have been imperative in improving communications and streamlining COVID-19 testing.

On April 23, Cornell was invited along with Stephen Musehl, the executive director of the Grey Bruce Alzheimer Society, to participate in the local Rogers Health Link Program.

The goal of the call was to provide an update and overview of the initiatives and resources available to support seniors and their families both in LTC and in the community.

“They had numerous hospital staff on the line and they invited us to provide a highlight about LTC and then we held a question and answer period,” said Cornell. “These are the kinds of partnerships that will make our health system in Grey Bruce and provincially that much stronger and more responsive to the needs of clients, residents, and citizens.”

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Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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