A Year in Review 2021-2022
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to significantly impact our services and operations this past year. While none of us could have foretold that this event would have lasted this long, I can say that we are deeply proud of each of our residents, clients, families, and particularly our staff members who have given of themselves so continuously and so intently without perceiving an end in sight. We are grateful for their dedication and extraordinary efforts to ensure a safe and healthy environment for those in our care, and particularly for their exceptional ability to continue maintaining the high quality standard of care for which we have become known.
On March 31, 2021, public health reported 2,932 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario. One year later, a similar level of new cases were reported at 2,867. Within that time period, the Omicron variant hit and reached its peak on January 4, 2022, with 12,777 new cases in the province. Thankfully, due to vaccines and the maintaining of infection prevention and control practices, we successfully navigated that wave.
This past year, McCormick Home continued to follow the strict ministry directives for families and visitors for the sake of everyone’s health and wellbeing. I know that it was not always easy, especially when the restrictions began to lift in the spring, raising questions about long-term care in particular. Following the ministry’s delegation of COVID-related decisions to the jurisdiction of individual long-term care homes, McCormick Home, in consultation with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, continued to persist in maintaining high standards of infection prevention and control for everyone’s safety. While it was a difficult decision, it was indeed the right one as the biggest wave of COVID-19 yet to hit the home was just around the corner. We experienced an all-time high number of infections in May, with 21 residents testing positive across two home areas. I am certain that without the ongoing diligence of the home in the decision to maintain visitor restrictions and continued testing requirements, that count would have been much worse. I sincerely thank our McCormick Home team members for their courage in facing their most significant challenge yet. All of the staff and managers at the home are to be commended for their successful demonstration of leadership and excellence throughout what will likely become known as the most difficult period ever faced in the home’s history. We are mindful that the fall may create new challenges for us with possible new COVID-19 variants and/or the return of influenza, and will strive to do our very best to meet whatever challenges may arise.
I would like to acknowledge Tanya Pol, who stepped down as the home’s administrator in May. We extend our sincerest thanks to Tanya for leading us through the many challenges of the pandemic and wish to recognize her for her exceptional leadership and commitment to our residents, families and staff members. We wish Tanya well. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Lynn Mellows, who assumed the role of administrator at McCormick Home in June. We are delighted to welcome Lynn, who brings with her more than 25 years’ experience in long-term care. We know that under her capable leadership, we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to offering care of the highest quality to our residents and families and resume our efforts to achieve our goals in dementia care leadership.
Our stellar community outreach efforts through McCormick Dementia Services continued without skipping a beat. The day program proactively responded to the restrictions brought on by the pandemic with the development of a number of innovative and easily accessible virtual programs and services. Much has been learned through this experience, and I know that the valuable lessons from the pandemic have helped shape our future programming and reach in a most positive way. While demand for our services has certainly not diminished, our able staff remain driven to ensure that those who need our help are able to access it. In addition to this achievement, I would also like to acknowledge our dementia services staff for their flexibility and dedication to doing whatever needed to be done to ensure the continuation of an in-person day program option for those most in need. No matter what the task, each of them rose to the occasion to pitch in and help wherever it was most needed. And for that, I extend to them my sincerest thanks.
This past year, the McCormick Day Program continued to carefully expand and safely welcome more and more members back to the in-person format. In addition, our overnight respite program recently resumed its offering of care across all seven days of the week. I am certain that caregivers and family members are most relieved at the full resumption of this most important service that provides both clients and caregivers the opportunity to refresh and recharge. To Karen Johnson and all the staff at McCormick Dementia Services, I extend my sincerest gratitude and admiration for a job extremely well done.
This spring also marked the time when our board of directors resumed our strategic planning efforts for the McCormick Care Group — our Strategic Plan Refresh for 2022-2025. We decided to build upon the existing 2019-2022 strategic plan, which was necessarily put on hold in light of the pandemic. An internal consultation outreach effort was launched to gather thoughts on the lessons learned from the pandemic and the suggested steps our organization needs to take toward recovery. Our goal is to develop two or three key objectives that will help us address and navigate the immediate needs of our organizational renewal and ultimately reinvigorate our stride toward our longer-term dementia care leadership goals. I am grateful to everyone who participated in the engagement process.
Over the summer, our executive team will translate the strategic refresh framework into a more detailed implementation plan focused on strengthening our relationship-centred care program; investing in staff training, development and support; and continuing our collaborations with research and other community partners. We plan to focus on those things that will be critical for us to achieve over the next three years, recognizing that the entire health system will be going through a period of recovery and renewal. We look forward to announcing these goals and sharing them with our McCormick community in the fall.
It has also been another year of exceptional support from our partners in care at the McCormick Care Foundation. Several imaginative and successful fundraising initiatives were held, including the Fit for Care and Give a Hug campaigns, as well as a tremendously successful Ritz gala event. I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to Foundation director Michelle Hancock and the entire Foundation board for their unwavering commitment to those in our care.
We are also delighted to welcome Cathie Auger as our new board chair. Cathie is an exceptionally knowledgeable and insightful leader who is well-suited to carry us forward in our pandemic recovery efforts. I am grateful to Kathy Parker, who completed her two-year term as chair in June. I appreciated Kathy’s extraordinary leadership that brought us through a most difficult time. The role of board chair carries with it a great responsibility, and the addition of managing through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that Kathy was the right leader at the right time. Her expertise and calmness under great uncertainties faced not only by us but also by people and organizations around the globe, enabled us to not merely weather the storm, but to do so with a particular clarity of focus, despite the uncertainties around us. I look forward to working with all of our board members to navigate our future course. I have every confidence in the expertise and professionalism of board as well as our staff members to see it through.
In closing, I am grateful to all our partners in care and friends throughout the community for standing by us and cheering us on as we moved through a most difficult period. Your steadfast support enabled us to face each day with a renewed sense of determination in our work and commitment to those in our care.
I wish you all a safe and healthy summer.
Steve Crawford, CEO
McCormick Care Group