COVID finds its way into continuing care

Details on lodge outbreak

Pearl Lorentzen

Lakeside Leader

On January 18, COVID outbreaks were added to the list on at the Slave Lake Continuing Care and Pembina Lodge in Westlock. These brought the total of nearby outbreaks to two in Slave Lake (the other at the lodge), four in Westlock, and one in Athabasca. All are in acute care or seniors homes. 

Lodge outbreak 

Last week, more information came to light about the COVID-19 outbreak at Vanderwell Heritage Place (aka. the lodge) in Slave Lake. The outbreak was first reported on on January 11. 

On January 17 and 20, 2022, lodge manager Gwen Zwick posted updates on social media about the outbreak. Since the outbreak started, there had been 12 residents who tested positive: 10 reported on Jan. 17 and two without symptoms reported on Jan. 20. Two staff members: one with and one without symptoms, one announced on each day. Of the 12 residents, four recovered (two announced each day) and the staff member without symptoms was allowed to return to work on Jan. 20. 

“On a positive note: All residents that have tested positive are in good spirits and seem to have very minimal symptoms which is fantastic,” says Zwick’s Jan. 17th report. 

At the lodge, another batch of prevalent testing was scheduled for Monday, January 24th, says the Jan, 20th report. “These will continue weekly until we have no new positive cases within the lodge.”

The previous Monday prevalence testing was reported on Thursday. 

Until January 28, 2022, the Lodge has limited visitors to two designated support people.

The number of cases connected with COVID outbreaks are not reported on because they change quickly, says the website. The outbreak list is updated on Tuesdays and Fridays. 

“Acute care and continuing care facilities (including group homes) are reported publicly when there are two or more cases, indicating that a transmission within the facility has occurred,” says “Outbreaks are declared over when four weeks have passed since the last case was identified, so not all outbreaks listed have current transmission happening.”


Despite only limited people being eligible for PCR COVID-19 tests, the number of active cases in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River (LSR) (which includes Slave Lake and Sawridge First Nation) increased once again the week of January 15 to 21. As of Jan. 21, it was 88. This is the highest it has been in the fifth wave. 

The last time it was in this range was during the fourth wave on Oct. 15 with 84 active cases, which was down from 92 the week before. 

From Jan. 15 to 21, the COVID-19 situation (active on Jan. 21) in LSR (incl. Slave Lake and Sawridge First Nation) and its closest neighbours was:

  • LSR – 88 active (43 new & 20 recovered) – two outbreaks (one new)
  • Big Lakes County – 76 active (59 new & 30 recovered) 
  • Westlock County – 121 active (78 new & 65 recovered) – four outbreaks (one new)
  • M.D. of Opportunity – 83 active (19 new & 32 recovered)
  • Woodlands County – two active (one new & five recovered)
  • Whitecourt – 64 active (25 new & 92 recovered) 
  • Athabasca County – 73 active (32 new & 36 recovered) – one outbreak
  • Northern Sunrise County – 13 active (14 new & nine recovered).

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