Saskatchewan

Wakaw, Sask., seniors home outbreak linked to 2 resident deaths went from 'zero to 100,' official says

Most of the infected people at Lakeview Pioneer Lodge are asymptomatic, though two residents have died and another is under intensive care.

Another resident of Lakeview Pioneer Lodge is under intensive care

Residents convene at Lakeview Pioneer Lodge in Wakaw, Sask., in December 2020. (Lakeview Pioneer Lodge/Facebook)
  • Have a story about a loved one in a care home dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak? Contact Guy at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

The widespread COVID-19 outbreak that has left two residents of a Wakaw, Sask., seniors home dead and another in intensive care quickly went "from zero to 100" in intensity, an official says. 

Practically all 44 residents of Lakeview Pioneer Lodge have been infected with the virus and about 60 per cent of the home's 70 workers are also infected and self-isolating at home as of Wednesday, said Wayne Nogier, the home's interim administrator.

Nogier said the outbreak began some time between Christmas and New Year's, with two residents testing positive and isolated to their single rooms. Then more residents' infections were confirmed. All residents and workers were then tested late last week, he said.

The vast majority of infected people are not experiencing symptoms, Nogier said, but for those who have, it's been "devastating."

The home's entire management team is infected, with one feeling "very, very ill," Nogier said.

In addition to Nogier, a clinical manager was expected to arrive on Thursday. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is helping provide additional staffers, he said.

Lakeview Pioneer Lodge is owned by several rural municipalities including Wakaw, where the home is located. It is independently operated under contract to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Lakeview Pioneer Lodge is owned by several rural municipalities, including Wakaw, where the home is based. It is operated under contract to the Saskatchewan Health Authority. (Don Somers/CBC)

Early containment efforts

Nogier said the home initially cohorted staff between positive and negative residents, but that once the number of infected residents spiralled, "that plan goes out the window."

"The thing that complicates [that] is the fact that it was, literally, you went from zero to 100 right now," Nogier saiid.  "And so that plan to segregate people, it probably lasted two days and it would have been effective for two days."

Nogier said health officials have "a very high index of suspicion" that the virus arrived in the home via a resident who had returned from a medical appointment.

"The resident was asymptomatic and continues to be very asymptomatic, but is tested positive. But the timing lines up well," he said. 

Nogier said the virus established itself even though "our people are hyper vigilant on things like hand hygiene and using personal protective equipment and ensuring they're decontaminating in and out of the building."

Vaccine

An employee who spoke to CBC said the home's residents and staff should immediately receive a COVID-19 vaccine — in line with the province's plan to prioritize the inoculation of elderly people in long-term care homes.

Nogier said care homes have been continually advocating for that, but like provincial health officials on Wednesday he also mentioned the complication of having to keep the vaccine refrigerated. 

"I genuinely think that we have to figure out the logistics behind how we move a vaccine like that safely into rural Saskatchewan and have it continue to be effective. And so that conversation exists," he said.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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