Saskatoon

Nearly 1 in 3 Saskatchewan COVID deaths has been among care home residents

Out of 274 COVID-19-related deaths recorded in Saskatchewan as of Jan. 27, 90 were among care home residents. Here's a breakdown.

Out of 274 deaths recorded as of Jan. 27, 90 were among care home residents

Forty-one residents' deaths have been linked to a COVID-19 outbreak at Regina's Extendicare Parkside home. (Paul Dornstauder/CBC)
  • Have a story about a loved one in a care home dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak? Contact Guy at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

Nearly one out of every three people in Saskatchewan who have died after being infected with COVID-19 was living in a nursing home or other type of long-term care facility, according to the latest statistics provided by the province's Ministry of Health.

From the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 to Jan. 27, 2021, there were 274 COVID-19 related deaths in Saskatchewan.

Of those, 90 were among residents of four types of care facilities tracked by the government. 

Here's a breakdown:

  • Affiliate Special Care Homes (Private Non-Profit): 27
  • Contract Special Care Homes (Private For-Profit): 39
  • Personal Care Homes (Private): 7
  • SHA Special Care Homes (Public): 17

The ministry declined to provide a site-by-site breakdown. 

The Extendicare factor

The deadly COVID-19 outbreak at Extendicare's Parkside home in Regina affects the results dramatically.

Extendicare is the only private, for-profit company operating Saskatchewan care homes (five in all) under a contract with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. That means the company accounts for all the deaths recorded under contract special care homes.

In fact, the number of deaths Extendicare links to its Parkside outbreak — 41— is greater than the number of deaths in for-profit homes recorded by the province, which may be attributable to different reporting methods or the timing of information release between the two groups.

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling for an end to for-profit care and for the province to acquire Extendicare's homes. 

On Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe did not directly answer when asked if the government would purchase the homes.

"We have committed vast amounts of resources to ensure the long-term care in Saskatchewan is as safe as it can possibly be, notwithstanding some challenges," he said. 

Some promised new health care workers "are in the process of being hired as we speak," he said. 

Moe said he would wait for the results of a recently announced ombudsman investigation into the circumstances behind the Parkside outbreak and the province's role in overseeing Extendicare. 

21 outbreaks still active

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said there have been "up to" 35 COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes since the outbreak began.

Out of those, 21 were active as of Tuesday, he said.

"We really need to minimize importation of COVID," Shahab said of "congregate living facilities" such as nursing homes and correctional centres. "So very careful around visiting. Staff obviously are doing a lot to make sure that they screen themselves. And now there's regular testing happening for many staff in long-term care facilities."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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