More than 50 of Calgary's continuing care facilities facing COVID-19 outbreaks
It's been a devastating stretch for many in Calgary's continuing care facilities, and the latest wave of COVID-19 cases is only adding to the hurt.
As of Friday, 53 of the city's long-term care and supportive living facilities were on outbreak status. That means there are two or more cases of the virus inside.
The outbreaks come after provincially mandated — and sometimes even voluntary — steps have been taken to slow the spread inside the buildings.
Visit limitations, worker testing and added cleaning measures are some of the actions taken.
But as staff look to reduce contact between residents and handle ongoing outbreaks, there are other potential problems on the horizon for some care facilities.
Three venues operated by Intercare Corporate Group Inc. are cutting employee shifts.
The changes, which will impact laundry and housekeeping services, are happening inside Chinook Care Centre, Southwood Care Centre and Brentwood Care Centre.
Two of the three facilities were under an outbreak alert as of Friday.
Intercare spokesperson Bonnie Elgie says shifts greater than 4 hours in length will be reduced by 15 minutes per shift "due to unprecedented inflationary pressure and limited increase to the monthly accommodation fee."
One unit clerk position has also been eliminated.
"There are no reductions in resident or patient care-related staffing," Elgie added.
Some still believe those staffing hours should be going in the opposite direction.
"We've got to remember that our most vulnerable folks, our elderly and infirm, are in these extended care and long term care facilities, and they just need people to take care of them," Rory Gill told CTV News.
Gill, who is with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, blamed the for-profit model for the changes.
"The government should step in and take over direct control and management of all long-term care facilities in the province," he said.
The province and Intercare both say the funding model isn't the cause of the employee shift cuts.
Health Ministry press secretary Steve Buick says any claims to the opposite are unfair.
"Alberta's government provided an extra $220 million in 2020-21 to offset pandemic-related costs in contracted continuing care facilities, and that funding is continuing," Buick wrote in a statement to CTV News.