Coronavirus Canada updates: Hardest-hit seniors’ homes in Edmonton, northern Alberta see big drop in COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus Canada updates: Hardest-hit seniors' homes in Edmonton, northern Alberta see big drop in COVID-19 cases
Coronavirus Canada updates: Hardest-hit seniors' homes in Edmonton, northern Alberta see big drop in COVID-19 cases

Two seniors’ residences that experienced deadly COVID-19 outbreaks — one in Edmonton and another in northwestern Alberta — have seen a sharp decline in cases, with only five active cases remaining between them.

Last Thursday, a woman in her 90s who was a resident of Kensington Village in north Edmonton, died in hospital as a result of COVID-19.

The seniors’ village, which has independent living buildings and a long-term care facility, has had a total of 35 COVID-19 cases linked to the site. Four of those cases are still active. Twenty-seven people people have recovered. Four have died.

Shepherd’s Care Foundation runs Kensington Village and seven other seniors residences in Edmonton and Barrhead. The other residences haven’t experienced an outbreak.

“So we believe that shows that the measures that we put in place did work to contain the outbreak at Kensington and they worked to successfully prevent it at any of our other sites,” said Zachary Penner, executive director of communications with Shepherd’s Care.

“We were constantly one step ahead of the Alberta Health Services recommendations, from banning visitors to utilization of full personal protective equipment such as masks and face shields.”

Residents who live in the buildings at Kensington Village that have experienced an outbreak have not been able to visit family off-site since the outbreak hit the facility in mid-March.

“We think now is a good time to take a step back and look at what a cautious, phased reopening is going to look like,” Penner said.

“We also know the last 10 weeks have been very hard on our residents and their families with all the restrictions that have been put in place. We owe it to them to lay out what a phased reopening is going to look like.”

From 64 cases to 1 at Manoir du Lac

In the town of McLennan, Alta., 440 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, residents and staff at the Manoir du Lac seniors’ residence have dealt with an outbreak that was declared on April 2.

Sixty-four positive COVID-19 cases were linked to the facility and 10 people have died. Alberta Health lists one case as still active. Fifty-three people have recovered.

Shortly after the outbreak was declared in April, Alberta Health Services took over day-to-day operations at the facility after issuing a 90-day public health order.

An AHS spokesperson sent a statement to CBC News on Monday. It said the residence hasn’t had any new confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in two weeks and that residents and staff are being screened daily.

“The medical officer of health will declare the COVID-19 outbreak over at Manoir du Lac and lift any site restrictions once there is no further evidence of transmission within the facility,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in the emailed statement.

‘We’re not getting too excited’

The drop in cases to almost zero after a public health crisis is a relief for Gene Zinyk, co-owner of Manoir du Lac and president of Integrated Life Care, which manages the Manoir du Lac residence.

“We’re pretty elated, but we’re not getting too excited to make sure that something doesn’t come back again,” Zinyk said.

In April, before AHS got involved, health-care staffing levels were reduced to eight people, while the facility usually employs closer to 35. Zinyk said staffing levels have since returned close to normal.

“I think we’re at about 90 per cent,” he said. “I know we’re still looking for some permanent registered nurses, but with regards to our health-care needs and LPNs (licensed practical nurses) we’re just about to our full complement of what we had before.”

Both facilities are awaiting word from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, to lift restrictions, if and when they no longer have any active COVID-19 cases.

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