Good Samaritan Southgate now Alberta’s deadliest long-term care outbreak

Click to play video: 'Good Samaritan CEO speaks as care-centre becomes Alberta’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak'
Good Samaritan CEO speaks as care-centre becomes Alberta’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak
As of Friday, 22 people had died from COVID-19 at Good Samaritan Southgate, where the CEO called the situation tragic. As Sarah Ryan explains, she says staff are doing everything they can to stop the spread. – Jul 31, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally said that, to date, there have been no staffing shortages at the care home. It has been updated after an official with the care home clarified that there are currently no staffing shortages.

As of Friday, 22 residents had died at Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre, which remains in an active COVID-19 outbreak.

This makes it even more deadly than the outbreak earlier in the pandemic at McKenzie Towne care facility in Calgary, which where 21 people died.

There are currently 49 active COVID-19 cases among residents at Good Samaritan Southgate, along with 16 positive cases in staff. On Friday, Good Samaritan said six residents have recovered, as well as eight employees.

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The company’s interim president and CEO, Michelle Bonnici, spoke on camera for the first time since the outbreak began, calling the situation tragic.

“It’s heartbreaking for the staff. It’s a very tight knit community at Southgate Care Centre so they’re grieving alongside all of the families as well,” Bonnici said.

She repeatedly emphasized the number one priority of the Good Samaritan Society as being the well-being of residents and staff.

“We continue to try and mitigate the spread of the virus in every way we can,” Bonnici said.

Click to play video: 'Family raises concerns amid COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton care centre'
Family raises concerns amid COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton care centre

One measure that’s being taken is the separation of residents.

“Those that are infected with the virus are cohorting so that they’re not mixing in with healthy residents.”

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Garnet Brown’s father, Murray Brown, has lived in the Southgate Care Centre for nearly four years as he battles Parkinson’s Disease.

“You always just hope it wasn’t going to happen in your parent’s long term care facility,” Garnet said.

He speaks to Murray for at least 30 minutes a week via video conference. Garnet says in those calls, he sees staff wearing a lot of personal protective equipment.

“Everyone was following AHS (Alberta Health Services) guidelines, they’re doing their pre-screening. So I’ll be honest, I’m totally surprised this is the one that it happened at,” he said.

Murray has been tested for COVID-19 multiple times, as asymptomatic testing began on June 13, but so far – he’s in the clear, despite rising numbers of positive cases among his neighbours.

“Every single time I check it and I see the cases go up, I reach out to my brothers and I’m like, have you gotten a phone call from them? I haven’t gotten one. It’s almost like no news is good news,” Garnet said.

Garnet said he believes staff are doing their best, but worries about his Dad’s limited social interactions.

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“That’s probably one of my biggest concerns is how much socializing he’s actually getting in there. It’s probably a big concern a lot of families have,” he explained.

Bonnici said there are currently no staffing shortages at Good Samaritan Southgate.

“At this point we have been able to source a variation of staff, HCAs, LPNs and RNs. There are some individuals that are hesitant because we are a COVID positive site, but we are fortunate that many have come to help us as Southgate,” she said.

AHS is supplying between 20-25 workers to the site daily, with GSS staffing levels varying between 90-100 workers.

Garnet is sympathetic to what those employees are experiencing as well.

“Give the staff kudos here, because they’re still going into an outbreak scenario – and they’ve got their own families to think about,” he said.

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