4th senior dies at Calgary nursing home, 66 residents and staff test positive

A fourth senior has died as an outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout a Calgary care home. 

McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home says it's working with health authorities to fight outbreak

A fourth resident of McKenzie Towne care home in Calgary has died due to COVID-19. (Mike Symington/CBC)

A fourth senior has died as an outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout a Calgary care home. 

Revera Living, which operates McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home, confirmed Wednesday that in total, 43 seniors have tested positive, two are in hospital and 23 staff have tested positive and are in isolation at home.

Dr. Rhonda Collins, Revera's chief medical officer, says the team has been in touch with the family of the senior who died Wednesday to offer condolences on their loss.

The first resident to die from COVID-19 was a woman in her 80s on March 23, according to Revera. On Sunday evening, a second resident, a woman in her 70s, died at the home.The third death was a man in his 80s who died Monday morning.

Details about the age and gender of the fourth resident who has died have not yet been provided.

Two more Calgary long-term care facilities have also experienced outbreaks of COVID-19, bringing the total in the city to three. A resident of the Carewest Glenmore Park seniors' home in Calgary also died Wednesday.

The updated numbers come as a relative of seniors at the home speaks out to say she's frustrated with what she describes as an unconscionable lack of communication from Revera.

Nina Vaughan has three elderly relatives in isolation at the home. Her father, Lorne Vaughan, is 81 and suffers from Parkinson's and other health problems.

Now he's also bedridden having tested positive for COVID-19, and with the 150-bed facility locked down to stop an outbreak that's already infected dozens of residents, Vaughan says communication is a problem.

"It's like a living nightmare, actually," she said.

"You just feel completely helpless. I would do anything for my dad. And I can't do anything. I can't even talk to him."

'It's a nightmare,' says daughter of McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home resident

3 years ago
Duration 2:21
Nina Vaughan, whose father, uncle and aunt are sick with COVID-19 and in isolation inside a nursing home in Calgary run by Revera Living, says the company is failing to properly communicate with affected families.

Vaughan's aunt, who is 81, and her uncle, who is 89, are also in the care home — also infected with the virus.

She says Revera has promised time and again to present families with a plan for facilitating communication with their loved ones while the facility is locked down. But so far, nothing.

"Revara as a company and an international organization is failing the families, the people who live here," she said.

"We have found out about the outbreak on the news. We have found out about each death on the news — which, to me, is unconscionable."

Revera said Tuesday it is drawing on the province for extra help.

Alberta Health Services has a physician offering guidance to the residents' doctors, a spokesperson said. The health authority has also placed a clinical nurse at the centre to oversee care, and a medical officer of health and continuing care leadership check in regularly.

Vaughan says all three of her relatives have complex medical issues on top of COVID-19.

"And we don't know if they're going to make it out of this," she said.

Vaughan says it's sometimes possible to have a nurse deliver a phone to her father so she can speak with him, but she feels that's not a good use of time for a nurse during an viral outbreak.

"Surely to God, Revera can hire a couple of people to take an iPad around and let people connect with their loved ones," she said.

"We just want them to know that we love them. And that we care about them, and that we're thinking about them and that we're fighting hard to have contact with them.

"We don't have the luxury of time while Revera figures this out."

Dot and Lorne Vaughan were married for 59 years. Lorne died during a COVID-19 outbreak at McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre. (Submitted by Nina Vaughan)

Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says there are "guidelines for outbreak control" that appear not to have been immediately followed at the facility, leading to a more widespread exposure.

But Revera has denied there was any breach of protocol, saying it has worked with AHS from the beginning.

"We want to assure the families of McKenzie Towne residents that we understand and share their fears. That's why we are doing everything we can, in partnership with Alberta Health Services, to protect the health and safety of our residents, employees, health-care service providers and suppliers as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic," Collins said in an emailed statement.

She says the staff appreciates the support the wider community has provided to those at the home.

"My mother lives across the street. She's been married to my father for 60 years. She's talked to him once in three weeks," Vaughan said.

"If one of our parents doesn't survive this, and we haven't had a chance to talk to them, I will never forgive Revera for that."

In Alberta, as of Wednesday, 871 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

With files from Jennifer Lee, John Gibson and Sarah Rieger


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