No COVID-19 cases at Vanderwell Lodge

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

On April 6, the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing Authority (LSLRHA) sent out a COVID-19 update.

“LSLRHA is being as proactive as possible to stop Covid-19 from coming into our facilities (including Vanderwell Heritage Place aka. the Lodge),” says the update. “As of April 6th, 2020, we have had no confirmed cases and no symptoms with residents or staff.”

Points West and the lodge have been closed to visitors since March 16.

The last few weeks has shown the dangers of an outbreak in a senior’s facility.

In her daily updates, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, stresses this point.

As of April 8, she says, most of the 20 deaths in Calgary are at one seniors facility.

Closer to home, there are 19 cases, including two deaths, in an assisted living in McLennan, one hour and 45 minutes west of Slave Lake. The outbreak was announced April 2. The deaths were both in early April.

Seniors are the most vulnerable to getting very sick or dying from COVID-19.

The health measures are in place to protect them. These have been increased once again over the past week.

Residents must stay in the lodge, or if they decide to stay with family and friends, they need to remain there until the pandemic is over.

On April 8, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said that the health restrictions will remain in place until the end of May, possibly longer.

In the case of an outbreak, says the update, residents will need Alberta Health Services approval to leave.

When possible, regular medical procedures are done by homecare in the lodge, but if a medical appointment is essential and arrangements can be made a resident may leave the lodge. This is the only time.

Family and friends can deliver snacks and groceries, by contacting the lodge manager to schedule delivery and disinfecting of the package by the staff.

“No deliveries are to be given at the resident’s patio doors,” says the update.

Even before COVID-19, lodges and other seniors homes had policies to protect residents from outbreaks, which include quarantine, when needed.

LSLHA is in daily communication with Alberta Seniors and Housing, Alberta Health Services (AHS), and Health Canada.

Cleaning has increased, and more cleaning supplies have been ordered and were expected by the end of the week.

The Lodge is well stocked with gowns, gloves, and masks, should they be needed.

“We are currently getting direction from Alberta Health (Services) as to whether our staff should be wearing masks,” says the release.

This policy was to be released on April 8, says the April 8 government of Alberta COVID-19 video update.

Lodge residents, family and friends of people in the lodge likely have questions. Here are a few of the answers included in the update.

What steps are being taken in the lodges to protect our residents?

“Staff and residents are constantly reminded that everyone must wash their hands and social distance as much as possible. No visitors. LSLRHA staff have been told not to travel and be extra careful away from work. Staff not taking these precautions are asked to stay at home.

“Staff uniforms are not taken home and they are left at the lodge to be washed every night.

“Food buffet is closed, and staff are delivering food to the tables. To support the social distancing, we have reduced the number of people sitting at each table at mealtime.

“For larger activities (five-15 people) like bingo, residents are spread out over a large area.

“Temperature checks are done on all residents everyday and staff when they come to work every day.

“With the extra workload and to be better prepared, LSLRHA has hired two extra staff for the day and weekend shifts to cover extra cleaning, disinfecting and help at mealtime. New staff are all health screened according to AHS. Food deliveries are left at the back door, staff disinfect before they are put away.”

What can the families do to help?

“Communicate with your loved ones, phone, skype and any other form of communication. If you need help, we have iPads or laptops we can set up.”

Who can I talk to if I have questions or concerns?

The local lodge manager or LSLRHA’s CAO Lindsay Pratt office 780-523-5282; cell 780-523-8518; [email protected]

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