WINDSOR, ONT. -- Proactive COVID-19 swabbing across the Chatham-Kent’s seven long-term care homes has produced 100 per cent negative results among all residents and staff tested.

Chatham-Kent health officials say the recent success of the testing initiative has proven that enhanced public health measures established in response to the pandemic are working.

"This was a significant undertaking, and our ability to carry it out in such a timely manner can be attributed to the diligence and flexibility of Long Term Care Home staff and residents," said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent's medical officer of health. "The efforts of all involved certainly contribute to health protection within our community."

On April 21, the province issued a new testing directive as part of Ontario's COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long Term Care Homes.

CK Public Health, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Chatham-Kent EMS and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent responded to this call by immediately forming a partnership to systemically carry out testing of all staff and residents in Chatham-Kent's Long Term Care Homes.

Testing started on April 24 and was completed on May 13.

Results of this testing produced 100 per cent negative results amongst 926 staff members and 765 residents from Chatham-Kent's seven LTCHs.

About 85 per cent of staff and 95 per cent of residents were tested as part of active surveillance. Staff and residents not tested were due to reasons related to resident consent or behaviour, and staff scheduling difficulties and leaves of absence.Chatham-Kent sign

"As a community, Chatham-Kent has demonstrated time and time again the ability to work together towards a common goal. Keeping our community safe requires every one of us to do our part,” said April Rietdyk, general manager of Community Human Services/CEO Chatham-Kent Public Health.

Each home was contacted individually to establish testing timelines and logistics.

CKHA's COVID-19 Assessment Centre assisted CK Public Health and the Chatham-Kent EMS Community Paramedic Program with testing in these homes.

In some cases, the homes chose to do the swabbing themselves. The new directive ensured that all residents and staff of LTCHs were offered testing even without symptoms.

"I'm proud of the work we've accomplished thus far through this highly collaborative group of health system partners. The results of our swabbing blitz in Long Term Care Homes truly proves that our public health measures are making a difference," said Lori Marshall, president and CEO of CKHA.

As of Wednesday morning, 138 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent, with one death.