Edmonton care facility combating COVID-19 outbreak with extra cleaning, PPE

A north Edmonton continuing care facility at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak is continuing to adapt to stop the spread of the disease.

In a virtual town hall Friday evening, Shepherd’s Care president and CEO Shawn Terlson answered questions about the current state of the Kensington Village facility, which includes long-term care, designated supportive living and independent living areas.

“We have done everything in our power to contain the outbreak at Kensington and prevent other independent facilities from developing COVID,” he said.

As of Friday, Terlson said 19 residents had tested positive — 18 from independent living rentals and one from supportive living. Six were in hospital and 11 recovering at home.

Two residents have also died from the disease.

Six staff and two Alberta Health Services case managers have also tested positive.

The last positive related to the facility was on Wednesday. Terlson said all cases confirmed since April 3 have been in self-isolation since that time.

Those who tuned in to the town hall were also told that there have been two sources of the outbreak: one resident who caught the disease from a relative and another who moved into the facility in late March. Move-ins have since been suspended, Terlson said.

Other measures have been put in place at Shepherd’s Care, including closing commons areas, extra cleaning and visitor screening.

Measures working, CEO says

Last week, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced measures that prevent staff at continuing care facilities from working at more than one site. The new measures also require staff to wear masks at all times when providing direct patient care or working in patient-care areas within two metres of other people.

Terlson said although the organization has been running into shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) from regular suppliers, it has been using new suppliers, new materials and community donations.

“We’ll always have sufficient PPE to protect our staff and residents,” Terlson said.

“We’ve also been hiring aggressively — I’d say very aggressively,” he said, adding that facilities were deliberately overstaffed in case workers need to go into self-isolation or take time off for mental health.

Terlson said an indicator of effectiveness was in the rates of pathogenic illnesses like the common cold that are tracked.

“The overall rates of all seasonal illnesses are down across the board,” he said. 

“This means that the measures we’ve taken all designed to limit person-to-person contact and increased cleaning are working.”

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