COVID-19: Alberta grants exemption to single-site staffing rule for Edmonton care centre with outbreak

Click to play video 'Hinshaw explains decision to grant exemption to Edmonton care centre with regard to single-site staffing rule' Hinshaw explains decision to grant exemption to Edmonton care centre with regard to single-site staffing rule
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw explains why Alberta Health Services decided to make an exemption to allow workers from other care homes to also work at Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre versus taking over the facility. ​

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced Monday that the circumstances surrounding a COVID-19 outbreak at an Edmonton care centre prompted the province to allowed for extra staff to be brought in to the facility despite Alberta’s single-site staffing rule.

“I don’t make exemptions lightly,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw told reporters at a news conference in Alberta’s capital.

The exemption was granted in the case of the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre, where a coronavirus outbreak has led to 27 deaths.

READ MORE: No new COVID-19 cases identified at Good Samaritan Southgate since Aug. 2 

Hinshaw said it is “essential that sufficient staff be in place” to ensure that not only the outbreak can be managed but also to ensure residents at such facilities are able to be cared for.

Story continues below advertisement

On Monday, Hinshaw announced that two more COVID-19 deaths have been linked to the Edmonton care centre, while noting no new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at the facility since Aug. 2.

Earlier in the pandemic, Alberta had adopted a rule for such facilities that staff can only work at a single site. The measure was brought in in an effort to mitigate the potential for spreading the novel coronavirus.

Hinshaw said staffing shortages at Good Samaritan Southgate were identified in late July and added that of the staff brought in to help, most are currently not working at other facilities.

Given the single-site staffing rule exemption, Hinshaw was asked why Alberta Health Services did not simply take over the Good Samaritan Southgate facility.

“Whether or not a decision had been made to have AHS take over (instead of partnering with the company and helping it)… care of residents was at risk if they could not get additional staff,” she said, adding there wasn’t sufficient staff within Good Samaritan Southgate’s pool of workers.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

COVID-19 cases linked to Calgary child-care centre

On Monday, Hinshaw announced that two COVID-19 cases had been linked to the BrightPath Richmond child-care centre in Calgary.

She said the operator of the facility voluntarily closed it after the cases were confirmed. Hinshaw added that all staff and attendees at the facility are being offered coronavirus testing.

Story continues below advertisement

“The rooms affected will remain closed for the duration of the 14-day incubation period for the virus,” a statement from BrightPath reads. “The other rooms will reopen on Tuesday, Aug. 11, following deep cleaning of the entire centre.

“Our thoughts are with the two children and their family as they recover.”

Alberta has 5 more COVID-19 deaths

In addition to the two new deaths linked to the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre, Hinshaw said Monday that three more deaths have been linked to COVID-19 in Alberta since Friday.

Alberta Health said the other three fatalities involved a man and a woman, both in their 60s, from the South zone and a man in his 60s from the North Zone. All three of those deaths were not linked to continuing care facilities.

As of Monday afternoon, 213 deaths have been linked to COVID-19 in Alberta since the pandemic hit the province.

Hinshaw said Monday that 257 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since Friday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 1,090. Of the active cases, 66 people are in hospital and 14 are in intensive care units.

Watch below: Some videos from Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s news conference on Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

Since the pandemic hit Alberta, the province has confirmed 11,687 COVID-19 cases and 10,384 recoveries. Across Alberta, 770,266 coronavirus tests have now been conducted.

On Monday, Hinshaw offered her condolences to the loved ones of those who have died of the illness.

“We all need to make wise decisions,” she said, as she reiterated the importance of following public health recommendations and rules to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Hinshaw said it’s important people adhere to such guidance whether cases are rising or falling.