Calgary

8 more cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Calgary nursing home where resident died

Health officials said eight additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at a Calgary nursing home, bringing the total at that facility to 14.

Total comes to 14, including a woman who died earlier this week

Someone hung this sign up on the fence outside the McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home in southeast Calgary, where 13 residents and a staff member had been confirmed as having COVID-19 by Thursday afternoon. A resident who was a woman in her 80s died Tuesday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus. (Jennifer Wiebe)

Health officials have confirmed eight new cases of COVID-19 at a southeast Calgary nursing home.

That brings the total cases identified at McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home to 14, including a staff member who tested positive earlier in the week.

Alberta chief medical officer of health Deena Hinshaw announced the additional cases in her daily update Thursday.

The home has been in the news this week, after one of the residents died from the illness. A woman in her 80s died Tuesday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

A letter was sent to residents and families on Thursday from Dr. Rhonda Collins, chief medical officer at Revera, the company that runs the facility.

In the letter, Collins said the company was enforcing strict protocols and precautions.

"[Since] March 22, the areas of the homes where those residents live have been in outbreak isolation, meaning that all residents in those areas are isolated in their respective rooms," Collins said. "Staff members are wearing full personal protective equipment to serve those areas."

Concerns from a family member

The relatives of a different woman living at the facility said they didn't know their mother was in isolation until they were chatting in FaceTime this week and saw a worker enter the room in full protective gear.

That family says not enough is being done to protect the most vulnerable.

"We're trying not to panic," said her son, whom CBC News agreed not to identify as he fears repercussions for speaking to media.

A letter was sent to residents and families on Thursday from Dr. Rhonda Collins, chief medical officer at Revera, the company that runs the facility. '[Since] March 22, the areas of the homes where those residents live have been in outbreak isolation, meaning that all residents in those areas are isolated in their respective rooms,' she said. 'Staff members are wearing full personal protective equipment to serve those areas.' (Mike Symington/CBC)

According to Revera, in addition to the confirmed cases, the organization is also awaiting on the test results for 10 more individuals.

It's unclear at this time whether any of the eight new confirmed cases were previously in isolation.

"I called my mother on FaceTime and we saw a worker coming into the room in full protective gear, face gear, and my mom said that they had moved her into isolation," said the man whose mother is in isolation.

"It wasn't until I was able to get ahold of the home when they actually explained they were in the process of sending out letters to families."

Family concerned that not all residents tested

He said his mother isn't doing well in isolation and says his family finds it "extremely concerning" that Alberta Health Services hasn't yet tested all residents.

He said his mother wasn't tested until Wednesday morning, and the family has yet to receive the results.

"If there's an outbreak in that home, everyone should be tested. They don't want this to balloon into something insane," he said.

"As a family member, I'm deeply concerned they're not doing enough to protect them."

A spokesperson with AHS confirmed in an email to CBC News that only those with symptoms are being tested at this time, while all others are being "closely monitored."

Outbreak at care home for adults with developmental disabilities

The province reported 67 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the​​​​​​ total to 486. Many of those cases are among vulnerable populations.

In addition to the cases at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre, the province said nine cases in total had been identified in continuing care facilities, including one case in Rosedale on the Park and two at Shepherd's Care Kensington Campus, both in the Edmonton zone.

Another cluster of cases in Calgary has surfaced at the Nelson Home, a group home for persons with developmental disabilities, the province said Wednesday.

A caseworker and two residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and two other residents are symptomatic, the province said. All are self-isolating.

Staff following infection control protocols: Revera

In an email, Revera spokesperson Larry Roberts said the company was awaiting test results on the residents in isolation.

"In these isolated units, we actively monitor all residents and staff follow infection control protocols," Roberts said.

Staff have been instructed to do more frequent cleaning and disinfecting amidst the pandemic, Roberts said, and extra housekeeping crews are being brought in.

Social distancing is enforced by ensuring there is adequate spacing in common rooms. The facility has also cancelled all group recreation programming.

Revera began screening visitors and staff for illness on March 14 and has limited visitors since March 17.

The province has curtailed visitors in long-term care facilities to one per resident, except in situations involving dying family members.

AHS needs to do more to protect most vulnerable, son says

But the man whose mother's health is ailing says the moves made so far don't go far enough.

"We can't take the nonchalant approach," he said. "This is the time where we need to be taking extraordinary measures.

"If Alberta Health Services is really serious in fighting this thing, the most vulnerable is where we should be throwing the majority of our resources."

About the Author

Joel joined CBC Calgary in 2019. Reach him by email at joel.dryden@cbc.ca

With files from Jennifer Lee, Drew Anderson and Rachel Ward

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