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Coronavirus outbreak at Markham home for adults with disabilities causes staff to walk off job

A Markham home for adults with disabilities is in dire need of help after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus caused staff to walk off the job, leaving residents unattended.
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A Markham home for adults with disabilities is in dire need of help after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus caused staff to walk off the job, leaving residents unattended.

Participation House is home to 42 adults with disabilities and as of Friday, had a confirmed 10 residents and two staff members test positive for COVID-19, Debra McLaughlin, a member of the board of directors, told Global News.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Health-care worker at Markham, Ont. long-term care home tests positive

McLaughlin said Shelley Brillinger, executive director of Participation House, told staff about the outbreak Thursday, which then caused workers to walk off the job. McLaughlin said it is now only Brillinger and four other managers providing care for the residents.

She added that the union is refusing to allow staff to come back, even after being offered double their salary. Agencies who supply personal support workers allegedly also won’t send anyone.

Meanwhile, Markham’s Mayor Frank Scarpitti put out a call for emergency support for the home Friday afternoon after he said York Region Public Health informed him of the outbreak at Participation House.

“I am issuing an emergency call to businesses, community groups or individuals who can immediately help to provide gowns, safety glasses and gloves,” Scarpitti said in a statement, adding that anyone who can help should contact his office.

READ MORE: Ontario health officials unveil new testing guidelines, criteria for coronavirus

Scarpitti said personal protective equipment (PPE) is even more critical to the house because it has six separate units, but each unit has six bedrooms and three washrooms and all are open to a common area that includes a dining hall, which allows for easier spread of the virus.

“They need help. Their situation speaks to the vulnerability of the residents and staff, and exactly why the public has to strictly adhere to physical distancing and all the other requirements during this public health emergency.”

The release went on to say that the city is working to facilitate a donation of masks to Participation House, along with the Markhaven Home for Seniors, which is also experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

READ MORE: Resident of Markham long-term care home tests positive for coronavirus

“The residents and staff at both facilities deserve our support and we have an obligation to do everything within our power to provide that support,” said Scarpitti.

As of Friday morning, Ontario had reported 73 outbreaks at long-term care homes and retirement homes across the province.

Ontario also reported 478 new cases of coronavirus Friday morning, including 22 deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 6,237.

The death toll rose to 222.




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