As Nova Scotia deals with an unusually hot summer, Wayne King says the lack of air in long-term care facility rooms in the province is dangerous for residents and staff.
King spoke to CBC Radio’s Morning Information on Friday he learned from an administrator at the Musquodoboit Valley Home for Special Care in Middle Musquodoboit, NS, that a “recommendation” had recently been issued that banned the use of window-mounted AC units in living rooms.
Nova Scotia Health, however, says the building is currently unable to install ventilation while an electrical assessment is being carried out.
“A lot of residents are using window-AC units, and now all they rely on are fans and other dehumidifiers, I guess,” King said. “The corridors, the rooms of the residents, everything is very hot on days like this when it happens. [the] mid-thirties.”
The building does not have a heating or cooling system, he said.
There are concerns about spreading germs
King said his older brother, Tim, has lived at the house for three and a half years. During his first summer at Musquodoboit Valley Home, a window AC unit was purchased for his brother’s room and used for the following summers.
But in late July, after Environment Canada announced a heat wave for the region, King heard from a building manager that the window unit would not be used due to disease concerns.
“I don’t have a problem with disease management and making statements like this,” King said, “the issue I have is that there is no alternative plan and no explanation to any of the families, as far as I know, this is the reason.”
Nova Scotia Health spokesman John Gillis said Musquodoboit Valley Home, Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital, South Cumberland Community Care Center and Bayview Memorial Health Center are all using heat pumps in common, unventilated areas. in private rooms. Taigh Solas and Northside General Hospital 4 East also have no refrigeration, he said.
Nova Scotia Health’s infection prevention and control guidelines for long-term care facilities recommend that facilities not use “portable air conditioning in rooms and residents.”
The warnings “help spread germs (such as those that cause COVID-19, pneumonia, the flu, and whooping cough) through small droplets from coughing or sneezing, ” according to an article from Nova Scotia Health.
Gillis said Musquodoboit Valley Home cannot install additional air conditioning units until an electrical assessment is completed, which is ongoing. He also wrote that all portable air conditioners must be on a “separate electrical circuit” and that window ACs can be a fire hazard.
Gillis said portable air equipment must have filters, be easy to clean, and meet safety standards, including spreading germs.
“The disease control group published a number of recommendations including those related to the use of portable fans, ventilators and air cleaners after the start of the epidemic in 2020,” said Gillis. “It is reviewed and updated periodically. The latest review of that document was July 29th but has not changed since 2020.”
CBC News reached out to the Musquodoboit Valley Center but was directed to speak to Nova Scotia Health.
This comes as Nova Scotia faces multiple heat warnings from Environment Canada. The federal government reported high temperatures across the state to be between 29 and 34 degrees last week. King said the Musquodoboit Valley area gets very warm in the summers.
King said he previously reached out to Premier Tim Houston, Long-Term Care Minister Barbara Adams and Health Minister Michelle Thompson via email about the issue, but received only automated responses.
“If they can provide a short-term solution to keep residents comfortable, then they can start working on long-term plans to install HVAC systems in the facilities. they don’t have it, I think that’s a big help.”