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St. Albert senior home staff member tests positive for COVID-19

As a precaution given how easily the virus can spread, all 10 senior residents who may have come in contact with the staff member are in isolation for 14 days. All residents and staff at Citadel Care Centre have been offered testing.


A photo that initially appeared with this photo was of the wrong facility. The Gazette apologizes for this error.

A Citadel Care Centre staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 in St. Albert. 

Alberta Health Services (AHS) confirmed the staff member acquired the virus in the community and not on site.   

This staff member will not return to work until they have fully recovered from COVID-19 and are symptom-free, wrote AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson in an email to the Gazette

"The staff member was following all protocols for safety and was wearing the required (personal protective equipment). No other staff or residents are affected at this time."

All the residents and staff at the site were offered asymptomatic testing, which will be completed in the next few days.

Monitoring visits from both AHS and Alberta Health, including one from Friday morning, found the Citadel Care Centre was in full compliance with current provincial health orders. 

AHS is now working closely with the site, and all residents and families have been notified.  

Dana Schnepf, Citadel director of care and site manager, said the staff member received a positive swab test result the morning of June 24 and called the senior home right away to notify staff.  

The staff member did work one shift in an area with 10 residents residing in it prior to becoming symptomatic, Schnepf said. 

"She did wear a mask that entire time and practised diligent hand-washing while she was there, so we really do believe the risk of transmission is low," she said. 

As a precaution given how easily the virus can spread, all 10 senior residents who may have come in contact with the staff member are in isolation for 14 days. Staff working with seniors in isolation are wearing full personal protective gear.

COVID-19 test results for residents are expected to come back this weekend, she said. If a resident does test positive, they would be relocated to a cohort unit set up during the onset of the pandemic. 

"We have staff who have volunteered to work in that unit who felt comfortable doing that, and they all received additional training so they have the knowledge and skills to work in that area," she said.

Facility confusion

Citadel Care Centre is a long-term care home, not to be confused with Citadel Mews West, an assisted living facility run by Christenson Communities Ltd. that shares a pedway with the care home.

After confusion resulted from a photo the Gazette published with its initial report on this case, Christenson Communities CEO Izabella Roth reached out to the Gazette with the following statement:

In light of recent news concerning a positive COVID case from a staff member at the Citadel Care Center, I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some confusion.

The Citadel Care Center is managed by the Qualicare group, and not Christenson Communities. The confusion is understandable as we share a pedway that connects our building Citadel Mews West with the Citadel Care Center. Since learning of the positive case, we have since taken immediate action by closing off the pedway so no access is available between the two buildings. Additionally, the Citadel Care Center is a long term care center, while Citadel Mews is an assisted Living site, an important distinction to mention.

We at Christenson Communities have worked tirelessly to prevent any COVID cases, and we are pleased to state that we are still COVID free at ALL of our sites. This is a testament to all of our amazing staff and residents, without them, this wouldn’t be possible.

Social connection

Since learning of the positive case, the senior home has stopped all outdoor visits for family members and residents in addition to all other provincial health orders.

To maintain connections between family members and the centre's 123 residents, the Citadel recreation team has increased how many Facetime visits they're offering from once a week to three times a week. 

Schnepf said senior residents have taken the news "fairly well." 

"I'm surprised at how well they're doing," she said. "I think this generation has been through a lot. They want safety and they want health, but they've been through so much that you see some pretty brave individuals."

As of Friday, there are three active cases of COVID-19 in St. Albert. 

Thursday's provincial update reported 22 active cases and 723 recovered cases at continuing care facilities across Alberta. In total, 117 residents of those facilities have died from COVID-19.

Alberta has among the highest number of COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities when compared with other provinces, according to the latest analysis from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).