By Lisa Gervais

Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) said it’s now sealed off Highland Wood and Hyland Crest long-term care homes from the rest of the hospital sites in Haliburton and Minden.

In its weekly community update, released April 24, HHHS president and CEO Carolyn Plummer said they’ve  installed temporary walls between the two areas, created separate entrances for staff and essential visitors to use depending on which part of the facility they need to access, designated separate break and change rooms for staff, and re-designed work flows so that there is no cross-over between the homes and the rest of the hospital.

“All of this work, and it has been a considerable amount, has been done in an effort to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from the emergency and acute areas to our more vulnerable long-term care residents,” Plummer said.

She said HHHS is also moving forward with increased testing for every long-term care resident and staff member, as mandated last week by the Government of Ontario.

In the meantime, she added they will continue to take resident and staff temperatures twice-daily, maintain physical distancing within the homes, and have staff use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, in all care areas within their facilities.

Plummer said as the provincial government seeks to have more people tested for COVID-19, their online self-assessment tool has been updated to include more symptoms, such as hoarse voice, runny nose, loss of sense of taste or smell, headaches, digestive issues, and fatigue.

The self-assessment can be reached at Ontario.ca/coronavirus, or you can call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

The president and CEO said while HHHS appreciates that many people have tried to stay away from hospitals and health care providers during COVID-19, “I want to encourage everyone to seek health care if and when you need it. HHHS and our local health care partners have been working diligently to ensure that we can manage the COVID-19 pandemic while still providing high-quality health care services to the community. Please do not ignore any health issues you may be having, and seek regular care when needed.”

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit now says all seven cases of COVID-19 in Haliburton County have been resolved. There have been no new cases for more than a week. So far there has only been one hospitalization and no deaths or outbreaks.

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