Vaccines have been the difference between life and death at a seniors lodge in Evansburg, Alta. now dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19.
Sunshine Place Seniors Lodge, located about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton, is one of six supportive living facilities in Alberta’s North and Edmonton health zones currently dealing with outbreaks of the respiratory disease.
“Will you still get COVID? Perhaps,” chief administrative officer Kristen Chambers said. “However, we are not experiencing those severe outcomes.
“We’re not experiencing the staffing issues. It’s not the full-blown crisis that we had previously.”
A report from March this year found Canada has the worst record for COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes compared with other wealthy countries.
The study found that the proportion of deaths in nursing homes represented 69 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths, significantly higher than the international average of 41 per cent.
Currently, long-term care and supportive living facilities experiencing outbreaks in the Edmonton and North zones are averaging around three cases each.
That’s due to both the vaccine and lessons learned from previous outbreaks, according to operators.
Here’s a look at outbreak numbers in the Edmonton and North zones:
- Grande Prairie Care Centre, Grande Prairie: four cases (one active, three recovered)
- Manoir du Lac, McLennan: three cases (two active, one recovered)
- Hardisty Care Centre, Edmonton: two cases (both active)
- Balwin Villa, Edmonton: two cases (one active, one recovered)
- Lewis Estates Retirement Residence, Edmonton: six cases (one active, four recovered, one death)
- Sunshine Place Seniors Lodge, Evansburg: three cases (two active, one recovered)
‘Very different’ outbreak
Sunshine Place is run by the non-profit Evergreens Foundation, which provides housing for seniors in Hinton, Edson, Jasper, Grande Cache and Evansburg.
At the foundation’s Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge in Jasper, Alta., five people died and 21 cases of COVID were detected in an outbreak last December and January.
Chambers said it’s scary to be in an outbreak again but the one at Sunshine Place has been much more manageable.
“We are seeing a very different type of outbreak than what we had seen with non-vaccinated residents,” she said.
“So in the instance of our outbreak in Jasper, every round of testing we did, it seemed there would be one more resident or one more symptomatic person.”
The province said Tuesday the lodge has three cases — two active, one recovered. Chambers said affected residents were already out of isolation.
At Manoir du Lac in McLennan, 420 km northwest of Edmonton, staff are also seeing a very different outbreak than the one they had last year.
Out of the 68 residents at the seniors’ residence living there in April 2020, 29 tested positive for COVID-19. Ten residents died.
The McLennan facility is run by Edmonton-based Integrated Life Care. Company president Gene Zinyk said the current outbreak at Manoir du Lac is minimal compared to what the residence was battling in 2020.
“It’s always sort of nightmarish to say, ‘Oh no, here we go again,'” Zinyk said.
“But we’ve always followed the protocol and we’ve always made sure that we’ve sanitized and masked and screened to keep any infections away from the building.”
Zinyk said vaccines as well as experience and education from the last outbreak is playing a huge role,
‘A tendency to revert’
Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare, said the spotlight was shone on long-term care homes during the pandemic because of the horrific outbreaks and outcomes.
Albertans can’t lose sight of the changes that still need to be made, Azocar said.
“There’s unfortunately a tendency to revert back to what people consider normal when the spotlight fades, and that’s exactly what is happening now,” she said.
“What people consider normal was woefully inept.”
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