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Alberta care homes hampered by issues in deadly first wave of pandemic: auditor general

When COVID-19 hit, Alberta care homes were unprepared, severely short staffed and suffered under outdated infrastructure says Alberta’s Auditor General Doug Wylie.

In a pair of reports released Thursday, Wylie says that while Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services had processes in place to cope with the novel coronavirus, many were ineffective.

"Continuing care facilities serve some of the most vulnerable of our society. These are our parents, grandparents and friends who deserve to be kept safe," Wylie said in a news release. "The COVID-19 response was impeded by insufficient preparedness and structural barriers—many of which have been long-standing—that existed at the start of the pandemic."

The report looked at the public health response in 355 publicly funded continuing care facilities between March and December of 2020. There were 379 outbreaks, 8,300 COVID-19 infections and 1,000 deaths in the facilities during that timeframe.

Wylie praised the efforts made by staff throughout the system to adapt and try to keep residents safe, but says there are important lessons to be learned.

He makes eight recommendations in all, four focusing on preparedness and structural issues that hampered care facilities response. These include better co-ordinating pandemic preparedness plans, addressing staffing shortfalls and adapting the layout of buildings to help limit the spread of infection. The remaining four recommendations focus on maintaining some successful adaptations so that the lessons are not lost in future. Top Stories

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