Strict new rules for Alberta seniors care homes in wake of COVID-19 outbreaks
CALGARY -- With COVID-19 outbreaks being reported at nine seniors care facilities in Alberta, health officials are enacting strict new reporting protocols.
That means the health authority must now be informed if a case is suspected or confirmed at a seniors home, or if two or more residents show symptoms.
Symptoms include a dry cough, fever, chills, chest congestion and difficulty breathing.
Staff working at multiple facilities must also inform their supervisor immediately if a suspected or confirmed case occurs at one of the other centres. They cannot be fired as a result.
These new standards are enforceable by law, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health during a daily update Thursday.
The nine care facilities are in Calgary, Edmonton and northern Alberta. They include:
- McKenzie Towne Long-Term Care Facility (65)
- Cedars Villa ExtendiCare (Staff)
- AgeCare Seton (Staff)
- Carewest Sarcee (Staff)
- Carewest Glenmore Park (1)
- Father Lacombe Care Centre (1)
- Shepherd's Care Kensington (4)
- Rosedale Seniors Living (1)
- Manoir du Lac (2)
There have been 74 cases of COVID-19 confirmed at seniors care homes in the province, with 65 of those at McKenzie Towne.
Three of the outbreaks are the result of staff working at McKenzie Towne also working at other sites, which is a common practice.
Hinshaw said an outbreak will be declared whenever a staff member or resident has a confirmed or suspected case to ensure hand washing and physical distancing measures are put in place as early as possible to protect other residents.
"People who live in these facilities need safe care and they also need to be protected from exposure," she said.
Hinshaw said there will be three levels of outbreak going forward — suspected, probable and confirmed.
"Suspected is where you have at least one person in a facility, so that could be a staff (member) or a resident who has symtpoms compatible with COVID-19, and the actions that are needed to happen is the person who has symptoms is isolated and public health is called."
A probable outbreak is when two or more people have suspected symptoms, which would trigger further measures, like limiting group gatherings and trying to keep people at least two metres away from each other.
A confirmed case would be lab tested.
Two additional deaths were reported on Thursday, a man in his 90s at the McKenzie Towne facility and a man in his 80s in the North Zone. That marks the fourth resident to die of COVID-19 complications from the southeast Calgary care home.
Hinshaw announced 97 new cases in her daily update Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 968. Of those, 174 are considered recovered, which is 32 more than the day before.
A total of 108 cases are the result of community transmission an increase of 14 from the previous day, said Hinshaw.
The province performed more than 4,000 COVID-19 tests on Wednesday, with 98 per cent being negative.