St. Joseph’s Health System & Niagara Health launch new pilot surveillance project to protect the most vulnerable in our health system
April 20, 2020 – COVID-19 has had a devasting effect within many congregate care facilities caring for vulnerable elderly residents, prompting the Ontario government to call for greater testing in long-term care and retirement homes.
With that in mind, St. Joseph’s Health System (SJHS) and Niagara Health are taking the vital step in testing all asymptomatic patients, residents and select staff within its long-term care, retirement home and congregate settings as part of a pilot surveillance project.
Under the directive of Dr. Tom Stewart, CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health, and the SJHS Executive team, supported by Research Institute and Lab, the project will test our most vulnerable patients and residents, including those living in long-term care, to save lives.
Researchers at the Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton, McMaster University, Guelph Assessment Centre, Public Health Ontario Lab and select public health units across the GTA are working together to test thousands of samples collected from long-term care facilities and retirement homes.
“We are testing the prevalence of asymptomatic COVID positive cases that could inform future testing strategies and prevention measures to curb the spread of this devastating virus and save lives,” Says Dr. Jack Gauldie, Vice-President of Research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “It’s vital we learn how we can protect our most vulnerable population and our staff today and, in the future. We need to share our findings widely to make changes to how we protect the elderly living in congregate settings.”
“St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health are committed to delivering integrated care across the continuum,” says Dr. Tom Stewart. “With our capacity and network of hospitals, research laboratories, long-term care home, Home Care, and retirement homes, it would be irresponsible not to put our collective efforts together in the fight against COVID-19. If our surveillance project demonstrates that asymptomatic cases can be COVID positive, it will dramatically change the COVID-19 response and prevention strategy going forward and most importantly will save lives.”
Testing of staff, residents and patients across St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health has already begun.
“We have tested all 111 long-term care residents for COVID-19 whether they had symptoms or not. All results have come back negative,” Says Lynn Guerriero, President of Niagara Health. “We need to do everything we can to minimize the risk to our residents, and testing will continue on a regular basis to support a safe environment and understand more about this virus.”
The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, working with the Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health, will review results from these tests and work to refine testing guidance as appropriate to support continued testing of asymptomatic residents and staff.
- Research at St. Joes
- St. Joseph’s Villa Dundas
- St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph
- St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre Brantford & Stedman Community Hospice
- St. Joseph’s Home Care
- Niagara Health
- Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program
- McMaster University
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
- Guelph Assessment Centre
- Hamilton Public Health
- Brant County Health Unit
- Niagara Regional Public Health
- PHO Lab
- Ontario Public Health
- Ministry of Health & Ministry of Long-Term Care
BY DON MITCHELL GLOBAL NEWS
Two well-known philanthropists are set to give Hamilton health researchers a $3.3-million boost to help fund urgent research projects connected to the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health.
In a letter to the community, Charles and Margaret Juravinski say they are donating funds to free everyone from the “terrible virus,” and allow the public to “live and move about without fear of spreading or picking it up.”
“Like everyone, we are deeply troubled by the fearsome threat of COVID-19, which has truly changed the world in just a few months,” the couple said in their letter.
“We are concerned not for ourselves, but for the people around us: our friends and family, our neighbours near and far, the people who work in our community’s grocery stores, restaurants and hospitals and the kids who should be out playing in our schoolyards.”
The money is an advance on a pledge made in May when the couple promised to divide their $100-million estate between Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, a gift they say would generate up to $5 million annually for the three agencies under the banner of the Juravinski Research Institute.
Charles, 90, and Margaret, 88, known for endowments with a number of projects connected to the city, McMaster University, and healthcare, compare the COVID-19 pandemic to a number of “frightening problems” they experienced during their lifetime including the Great Depression, the Second World War and the scourge of polio.
“Our wish is that it may inspire hope,” the couple said of the donation, “We hope it will produce results that benefit people immediately. We urge others to find ways to give what they can.”
In a joint statement, Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton say the funding will support eight collaborative research projects which include:
- A study on the effectiveness of N95 respirators or medical masks
- A three-part study on the impact of the pandemic on hospital emergency departments and staff
- speed up of diagnostic testing protocols for viral pathogens responsible for the COVID-19 using robotics
- An age-related study of 50,000 people ages 45 to 85 to close in on factors that appear to protect against or increase the risk of developing symptoms connected to COVID-19
- COVID-19 repository for storing human biological samples
The money is also earmarked for three mental health projects including a study on the impact of substance use in relation to the brain development of young adults, technology to identify brain anomalies following a mild traumatic brain injury, and AI technologies offering data on potential treatments to aid youth mental health.