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Calgary family fears for parents after COVID-19 outbreak at seniors care home

Click to play video 'Calgary family fears for parents after COVID-19 outbreak at seniors care home' Calgary family fears for parents after COVID-19 outbreak at seniors care home
WATCH: A COVID-19 outbreak at a northeast Carewest facility in Calgary is raising a lot of concern from loved ones. At last count, nine residents and seven staff members tested positive and one resident has died. As Jill Croteau reports, there's more worry about how the virus got into the seniors residence – Oct 22, 2020

Lewis Pfeifer’s parents Fred and Julia both live at Carewest’s George Boyack seniors home. The couple live on the fourth floor where a COVID-19 outbreak happened.

Pfeifer says he’s worried about them contracting the virus given they are in their early and mid-90s.

Read more: Hinshaw warns young Albertans that long-term effects of COVID-19 remain unknown

But he’s also concerned with how rampant this spread.

“I was very alarmed how this blew up,” Pfeifer said.

“I sent a message to the director of operations saying: ‘I’m very concerned, how did this heighten so quickly,’ and I got a response back indicating the initial positive test was from an admission that was transfer from a different facility,” Pfeifer said.

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Alberta Health Services confirmed the first case was a new admission.

“The initial case at George Boyack was a new admission. The individual was on isolation from the time they were admitted and tested positive after admission,“ a statement from AHS read.

Fred and Julia Pfeifer with their son Lewis.
Fred and Julia Pfeifer with their son Lewis. Family supplied

He said he was told of a positive case on the Thanksgiving long weekend, then a week later were told three others and four staff were infected. Then Wednesday October 21, he was told things had escalated in numbers. AHS confirmed that ten residents and seven staff members tested positive and one resident had died.

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“How does that happen? Transferring someone with COVID from one facility to another? Are they not aware? I have a lot of questions,” Pfeifer said.

“This shocked me as to how quickly this has gotten out of hand.”

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He said staff is excellent at the home but expects more transparency from management.

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In a letter from Carewest to residents, Director of Operations, Alan Chapple said, “Staff, and those whom they have been in close contact with, have been quarantined at home for the past several days as part of our contact-tracing protocol.”

“We have been working daily with AHS Communicable Disease and the Medical Officer of Health to ensure that we are doing everything possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Chapple said. “Carewest has also allocated extra infection control resources to us to prevent further transmission. We are testing all residents and staff a third time as an additional precaution.”

The company deferred questions from Global News to Alberta Health Services.

Officials from AHS said they are working with Carewest to mitigate the spread of the outbreak, and are taking actions including increased screening and testing of residents and staff, restriction of visitors and group activities, and increased PPE use.

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