A number of care homes in Alberta say they’re burning through their supplies of personal protective equipment as they work to keep vulnerable seniors safe from COVID-19.
“We are using masks, procedural masks, gloves and gowns — those types of things, and of course, hand sanitizer,” explained Wendy King, executive director of the Canterbury Foundation.
The Foundation runs Canterbury Manor, home to hundreds of seniors in Edmonton’s Laurier Heights neighbourhood.
King said it’s getting harder to source PPE and Canturbury’s stocks are dwindling.
“Now with the continuous masking order directed from the chief medical officer of health, of course we’re going to go through those supplies much quicker,” she explained on Monday.
“We were promised an order by Friday, we didn’t receive those yet. We’re crossing our fingers we’ll get those tomorrow.”
Canturbury is not alone. St. Michael’s Health Group is also having trouble finding a steady supply of PPE.
St. Michael’s provides long term care, supportive housing, programs and services to Edmonton seniors.
Shepherd’s Care Foundation, whose Kensington facility is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak, said they too are feeling the pinch.
“We have been able to maintain appropriate PPE levels for our operations, in the short-term, by using creative solutions (such as ordering operating room gowns in place of the usual gowns we order), and by doing business with new, unconventional suppliers,” wrote Zachary Penner, Shepherd’s Care’s executive director of communications.
“We are hopeful that AHS will start to supply us in the next few days as our current supply will be exhausted.”
To try and beef up their supplies, Shepherd’s Care even took to social media to ask for donations.
“We have been blessed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support — we have had several local dentists, pharmacies, and other businesses donate whatever they have on hand. As a charitable organization, we can issue tax receipts for PPE donations,” Penner said.
On Saturday, Premier Jason Kennery announced Alberta will be sending excess PPE to other provinces: namely, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.
The donations include 750,000 N95 masks, 4.5 million procedural masks, 30 million protective gloves, 87,000 goggles and 50 ventilators.
The Alberta government says the province has enough equipment to meet its own needs.
On Sunday night, 80,000 pounds of procedural masks, gowns and face shields for Alberta Health Services arrived in Edmonton from China.
That shipment was good news, Penner wrote.
“We were strongly encouraged by the news this weekend that there is a large supply of PPE that has been procured by Alberta Health. We have not received instructions on how we can access this supply yet.”
The Christian Health Association of Alberta, which operates about a third of all continuing care spaces in the province, said it was told on Monday afternoon that its operators will be getting supplies from the AHS stockpile right away.
“We’ve been ensured that AHS has been working over the weekend to get supplies organized and ready to be shipped out immediately, for receipt mid-to-late week,” executive director Leah Lechelt said.
And in the future, there will be a system in place to avoid this uncertainty.
“We’ll have a process for ongoing replenishment of those supplies for as long as that’s needed. And that they do have a lot of supplies on hand and more coming in so they’re very confident that the supplies are there,” Lechelt explained
That’s music to the ears of King over at Canterbury.
“We’ll all sleep better at night knowing we have the supplies we need.”
And if any care homes run dangerously low in the interim, Lechelt says they’ll share amongst themselves.
“Rest assured that the safety of our staff and residents is paramount.”