Michelle Mensies’ heart sank when she found out Monday that her 77-year-old father tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was horrified,” she said from her Calgary home on Tuesday.
Gerad Mensies lives at Clifton Manor, a long-term care facility in southeast Calgary. On Monday, families were informed eight residents and six staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
The number of residents who tested positive increased to 10 on Tuesday.
All residents affected live in the same unit and all have been relocated to the isolation ward at Clifton Manor for treatment.
“It worries me because my dad has health problems as it is, and he can’t get better if there is case after case coming in after him, along with the other seniors who were in there before him,” Michelle said.
The isolation ward at Clifton Manor is a room dedicated exclusively to residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. It has a higher staffing ratio than the rest of the facility.
The head of The Brenda Strafford Foundation, which owns and operates Clifton Manor, says it makes sense to have an isolation ward, especially in an older facility with many semi-private rooms.
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“We have dedicated staff who are caring for these residents. They are segregated, so the focus is on them exclusively.
“And for the other family members who are not COVID positive, there is some comfort knowing that these residents are in one area and their family members are in an area where there are no COVID positive residents,” said Mike Conroy, president and CEO of the Brenda Strafford Foundation.
Conroy adds that the isolation room is beneficial for staff as well because it limits the amount of times they would go in and out of a private room, taking protective equipment on and off.
“If you have somebody in isolation in a semi-private room or private room, every time they (staff members) go in that room and they come out, they have to put on the protective equipment, and putting it on and off constitutes a fair amount of transmission risk every time you do that.
“Here, staff put on the protective equipment, go in, and they can support and care for all the residents in the isolation ward at any given time without having to go in and out,” Conroy said.
Experts at the University of Calgary say cohorting infected residents has its advantages but care needs to be taken to ensure other illnesses aren’t spread.
“It can be good because it maintains separation and that is part of the whole public health policy,” said Dr. Chris Mody, professor and head of the department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases with the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary.
“But the disadvantage of doing it is that you can spread other bugs around to the other members that are cohorted together.”
Alberta Health Services says having a designated unit may allow for separation of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients from other patients within an acute care facility and that it may also allow for preservation of PPE among health-care providers.