CALGARY -- Four fatalities, 25 residents with COVID-19 and 12 staff infected has prompted the province to step in and take over control of Millrise Seniors Village. For some of those who have loved ones that are residents at Millrise, the news comes as a relief.

“My gut tells me that there’s four people that ended up dying, 20 people have ended up getting sick, something wasn’t right,” said Michael Sondermann, whose parents both live at the facility.

Sondermann’s parents are in the dementia ward and says he spoke with management staff at the facility when COVID-19 first broke out.

He says he was told that residents were not required to stay in their rooms, which has since changed.

“It’s pretty worrisome and it’s terrifying,” said Sondermann.

“You realize that you’re just powerless not doing anything. It’s almost as if you’re just sitting and waiting for something to happen.”

This is the first time AHS has appointed a long-term care operator to take over another facility during the pandemic.

“This decision was made in interest of the health and safety of Millrise Seniors Village residents and staff and to manage the COVID-19 outbreak on site," said Dr. Verna Yiu, the President and CEO of AHS.

Sondermann’s parents are both in their 90’s. He hasn’t seen them in 6-8 weeks.

He  feels relieved the province has stepped in.

“If AHS has brought in AgeCare we trust that everybody there will be looked after,” said Sondermann.

“These are our most vulnerable people in our society and they built the world we live in, so we have to look after them.”

Comprehensive review

In a letter addressed to residents and families, AgeCare says its senior officials will be on site directing Millrise Seniors Village management.

“In these early days, one of our first priorities will be to conduct a comprehensive review of the site and its operations to ensure we can continue to provide essential services and keep residents and staff safe,” said Dr. Hasmukh Patel, President and CEO of AgeCare.

AgeCare says it's implementing new protocols that include:

-All staff with confirmed cases must self-isolate before being cleared by public health officials to return to work

-Residents how may have been exposed to COVID-19 will be restricted to their rooms and monitored closely

-Staff must wear PPE

-Staff movement will be minimized between floors and units

-All in person recreational activities are cancelled

AgeCare says that Skype, Apple FaceTime, email, social media, phone calls, and written letters will be available for residents to connect with their families.

Sondermann adds that communication with staff has been challenging.

“By the time COVID hit Millrise, we’d already been through McKenzie Towne," he said. “That company should have had pandemic plans. Business continuity plans.”

West Coast Seniors Housing Management, which generally operates the facility, issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon, in which they said that of the 20 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 , all are currently in isolation, with 15 "doing quite well", and all being monitored closely.

"When the site become COVID-active," they added, "we initially lost 34 staff who took a leave of absence and another 30 (management and front-line staff) who were affected and placed in self-isolation at home. The number of affected staff currently totals 13."

The four deaths were a female in her nineties, a female in her eighties, and two males in their seventies.

Millrise Seniors Village is currently home to 155 residents, and employs about 70.