For four and a half months at the start of the pandemic, Glen McKinley was unable to visit his wife Trisha at Clifton Manor due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“When we first went through this, it was scary,” McKinley recalled. “It was very difficult at first, but then being able to see her through the window helped me and she brightened up,”
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In 2020, research from the Canadian Institute for Health Information showed that residents of long-term care facilities in Canada accounted for 81% of all reported COVID-19 deaths. And now a new wave of COVID-19 infections is hitting those residents again.
AHS data from April 20 indicates that there are outbreaks in 20 long-term care facilities and 31 supported residences in Calgary.
But there are reasons for optimism according to the administrator of Clifton House in southeast Calgary.
Leo Escandor said thanks to at least 95% of residents being triply vaccinated, there are fewer serious cases and hospitalizations right now.
“I can tell you that this has ensured the protection of our residents. We saw fewer symptoms and it saved lives,” Escandor said.
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Escandor said continued masking has also played a role in reducing serious infections, as well as keeping residents further apart. He added that many residents moving into the new Clifton House from the old Clifton Manor no longer share rooms, which has been a big help.
“When someone has contracted the virus, it’s hard to separate the two, and now we have a lot of private rooms here so we can get them treated on site without exposing more people,” he said.
Rules for visiting long-term care facilities have been relaxed since the start of the pandemic.
Wearing a mask is still compulsory and visitors must pass a medical examination to enter.
People confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 are confined to their rooms.
“We have certain restrictions when we have residents who are affected by COVID. They are confined to their rooms but of course still have physio, recreation and nursing services,” Escandor said.
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McKinley said he was happy to wear a mask when visiting his wife, as well as in the community if it meant keeping vulnerable people, like his wife, safe.
“I’m confident they’re handling it well,” McKinley said of the action at Clifton House, but he expressed concern about the possible effects the easing of health restrictions could have in the province.
“I think we are relaxing a bit and it scares me a bit because I wear my mask all the time.
“So I think we should just let the science deal with it, I guess, and see where it goes,” McKinley said.
Residents of Clifton House will begin receiving a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine this week.
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Carewest is also taking steps to ensure the continued health and safety of its residents.
As of April 26, six Carewest locations were on the COVID-19 outbreak list. For the most part, the active cases relate to staff, according to a statement from Carewest.
“Carewest is doing everything possible to ensure the continued health and safety of our residents and customers given the continued transmission of the Omicron variant within the community,” read a statement to Global News.
Carewest said safe staffing levels were maintained due to the commitment of healthy staff to take on additional shifts, as well as the use of contracted vendors.
As of April 12, anyone 70 and older in Alberta, and all seniors in congregate care as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit people 65 and older, can make an appointment for a fourth dose. .
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