COVID outbreak at Winnipeg’s Simkin long-term care home now spreading to residents

covid survivor in winnipeg
Most of the staff are back at work at Winnipeg's Jewish long-term-care centre, The Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre, after 29 tested positive for COVID since New Year's. The staff held a parade Monday Jan. 10, 2022 to escort a resident back to her room after she, too, recovered from COVID and was able to come out of isolation. (Photo courtesy of The Simkin Centre)

Staff at the 200-bed Jewish long-term care home in Winnipeg held a “survivor” parade on Jan. 10 to celebrate the recovery of a patient from COVID-19, just as the Simkin Centre is coping with a widening outbreak among residents.

The Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre has been coping with the latest wave of the highly contagious disease since the end of December 2021, when all but one of the cases were among the staff members. According to the latest update from Laurie Cerqueti, the CEO of the home, a total of 10 residents now have COVID, and most live in the Weinberg 3 wing of the building. And there could be more.

“We are awaiting additional COVID test results for some residents on Weinberg 3,” Cerqueti wrote in a message to staff and families on Sunday, which was posted on the home’s Facebook page.

All the positive cases have been moved to an isolation ward.

The centre has been slammed with staffing shortages due to 29 employees testing positive. The centre was forced to cut back some services such as showers and tub baths, clothes changing, and using plates and real cutlery for meas. All outside visits were banned.

“In the span of our seven-week outbreak which was in the second wave of October, November and December of 2020, we had less staff sick than one week of the outbreak this time, so that is how intense it has been,” Cerqueti told The CJN last week.

Twenty-six of the ill staff members were due to report to work on Monday, Jan. 10. Many of them joined their colleagues to line the corridors of the centre for a parade in honour of a resident who has recovered from COVID.

Staff clapped and cheered as the woman, named Ilseferne, was wheeled through the centre to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. She wore a blue T-shirt that reads: Virus survivor.

Eleven residents died during the fall wave of COVID in 2020. In October 2021, the centre invited families of the victims to unveil a memorial stone erected outside the centre with the names of all eleven who succumbed to the disease.