This story has been updated to include information about an outbreak at Ironwood Estates.
Alberta Health Services told the Gazette Friday afternoon there were 37 positive cases of COVID-19 at the St. Albert Retirement Residence. Alberta Health later said in an email they were notified of 35 cases linked to this outbreak. Thirty-three are active and two are recovered.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at the St. Albert Retirement Residence.
Twenty-nine residents and eight staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 at the residence as of Oct. 22, according to AHS. Alberta Health later told the Gazette they were notified of 35 cases linked to this outbreak, but did not provide a breakdown of how many were residents and how many were staff members. The 180-unit retirement home in Erin Ridge North has both independent and assisted living suites.
AHS staff are onsite and working closely with the facility and All Seniors Care Living Centres, the company that operates the home, according to a statement provided to the Gazette. Contact tracing, testing and monitoring of staff and residents is ongoing.
"AHS staff are onsite and meeting virtually to provide direction, consultation and support with outbreak and issue management, resident and staff testing, care and service delivery. This includes quality monitoring visits, led by the Provincial AHS Internal Audit team, which is standard practice for all sites on outbreak," the statement reads.
Bruce Lillie, regional marketing director for All Seniors Care Living Centres, told the Gazette they have been in "constant contact" with families with updates.
"We have very stringent protocols in place, we always have. We're working very closely with Alberta Health Services," Lillie said.
The retirement home has implemented several outbreak protocols, according to AHS.
Residents have been cohorted by unit and are isolating in their suites. Staff are cohorted by floor and by area, and must complete a screening each day before entering the building. Enhanced sanitization and cleaning practices are still in place with a focus on high-touch areas. Education and enforcement around personal protective equipment is ongoing.
"We immediately went to residents isolating in their suites, going to in-suite activities, so no common area activities ... We're doing everything we can to ensure that we safeguard each other and that everybody follows the protocols in place," Lillie said.
Building access is restricted to essential visitors only, but families can still connect with loved ones virtually, he said.
"All of our residents are in their suites and enjoying having their meals delivered. And we have activities throughout the day that keep them active and engaged," he said.
"We're very grateful for the support the families have shown us. It's been a very moving time."
Two active cases at Ironwood Estates
Two staff members at the Ironwood Estates retirement home in St. Albert have tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was reported to Alberta Health on Oct. 14.
According to AHS, an outbreak is declared when two positive cases are identified within 14 days.
“Operators and health officials take any outbreak extremely seriously,” wrote Tom McMillan, Alberta Health spokesperson in an email to the Gazette.
“AHS will continue to work with the operator to help support the health of all residents and staff.”
Health officials are working closely with the operator, Atria Retirement, and anyone at risk. This includes conducting contact tracing and ensuring anyone at risk of exposure is contacted, isolated and tested.
The facility must also follow strict outbreak protocols, including infection prevention and control measures. Enhanced cleaning must be done multiple times a day, and visitors to the site are limited.
Senior home staff have provided regular email updates and phone calls to residents and their families about the outbreak,wrote Cam Johnson, Atria Retirement regional vice-president, in an email to the Gazette.
"We continue to operate with escalated safety protocols. We also remain vigilant with PPE and screening all employees daily, as well as residents regularly for symptoms and a temperature. We will continue to be in communication with local health authorities and follow their guidance," Johnson wrote.
The two staff members who tested positive will remain out of the building for at least 14 days and must be symptom free for at least 72 hours before returning, he wrote.
"Our primary focus is and remains on the health, safety and well-being of our residents and employees as we navigate this unprecedented pandemic together.”
On Friday, St. Albert reported 91 active cases of COVID-19, an increase of three people from the day prior. In total, 230 people in the city have tested positive for COVID-19 and 137 of them have recovered. Two people have died from the virus.