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He didn't know mother was in isolation at seniors home until someone in full protective gear wandered in

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2020-03-26 Joel Dryden
a house that has a sign on the side of a road: McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in southeast Calgary has already had one resident die of COVID-19 and four other residents and one staff member had tested positive as of Wednesday evening. According to Revera, the company that runs the facility, 19 of the 144 residents are currently in isolation for respiratory illness symptoms in two separate areas. © Google Maps McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in southeast Calgary has already had one resident die of COVID-19 and four other residents and one staff member had tested positive as of Wednesday evening. According to Revera, the company that runs the facility, 19 of the 144 residents are currently in isolation for respiratory illness symptoms in two separate areas.

The relatives of a woman in a Calgary nursing home hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak says they didn't even know their mother was in isolation until they were chatting in FaceTime and saw a worker come into the room in full protective gear.

They're saying 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.

His mother — who is in her late 70s and has underlying health problems — lives at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in southeast Calgary. Another resident of the seniors home, a woman in her 80s, died two days earlier after contracting COVID-19 and four other residents and one staff member had tested positive as of Wednesday evening.

According to Revera, the company that runs the facility, 19 of the 144 residents are currently in isolation for respiratory illness symptoms in two separate areas.

"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," her son said.

"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

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the province said there were 419 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta — with  61 new cases, many 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."

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