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10 deaths, dozens of COVID-19 cases at South Terrace long-term care facility in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Calls for more action as COVID-19 devastates long-term care homes again' Calls for more action as COVID-19 devastates long-term care homes again
WATCH: Calls for more action as COVID-19 devastates long-term care homes again – Nov 11, 2020

Alberta Health Services says it is working closely with an Edmonton long-term care home to manage a deadly COVID-19 outbreak that has infected more than 100 people.

The agency said in a statement Wednesday that South Terrace Continuing Care Centre, which is owned and operated by Revera, has had 66 cases among residents and has 66 active staff cases. That means over 73 per cent of residents have contracted COVID-19.

It said 10 residents have died.

In a statement to Global News on Wednesday afternoon, Revera confirmed the facility houses 90 residents in the home near 112 Street and 59 Avenue in south Edmonton’s Lendrum area.

Click to play video: '10 deaths, dozens of COVID-19 cases at South Terrace long-term care facility in Edmonton' 10 deaths, dozens of COVID-19 cases at South Terrace long-term care facility in Edmonton
10 deaths, dozens of COVID-19 cases at South Terrace long-term care facility in Edmonton – Nov 11, 2020

Read more: Coronavirus: $50M class-action lawsuit application filed against long-term care home operator

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Karen Steiner’s 79-year-old father, Richard Steiner, is a resident at South Terrace.

Since late October, she has watched COVID-19 invade her father’s care home.

“We’ve been realistic about it. But, we are at the point now where… it’s just awful,” she said.

Richard Steiner, 79, a resident at South Terrace Continuing Care Centre in Edmonton. Supplied to Global News

She described the current case number at the facility as an “extraordinarily high number.” She told Global News her father tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday.

Her father is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and cannot communicate with his family but Steiner said she knows how he would feel.

“He’s a very accomplished, intelligent man. He spoke three languages. He’s a fascinating man and unfortunately his health has left him in this position,” she said. “He would be enraged by this.”

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Revera also owns a Winnipeg care home that called paramedics on the weekend to deal with a crisis of sick and dying patients during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Read more: ‘It’s terrifying’: Winnipeg woman’s father tests positive in home care COVID-19 outbreak

The company initially said there were 13 of the normally scheduled 19 health-care aides working the evening shift on Friday, but the Winnipeg Health Authority determined that seven people were working in the 200-bed facility.

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Revera, which operates long-term care homes across Canada, said the erroneous information was a mistake.

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Susan Slade, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said she doesn’t want to see a similar situation at the Edmonton care home.

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“We are monitoring it very closely,” she said Wednesday.

Slade said a total of 70 staff at South Terrace have contracted COVID-19 and four have recovered in the last few weeks.

The union, she said, has reached out to its local at the home and is offering support to the 146 health-care aides and other support staff who work there.

Slade said South Terrace has been given an exemption to a rule that prevents long-term care employees from working at more than one facility. The rule was brought in by the province during the pandemic’s first wave last spring to try to stem spread of the COVID-19 virus by staff moving between care homes.

“There just isn’t enough staff,” said Slade, who noted that Revera is expected to bring in workers from its other facilities and has promised to reinstate incentive pandemic pay during the outbreak.

Read more: Class action lawsuit filed against Revera for McKenzie Towne centre’s COVID-19 response

Alberta Health Services, which delivers health care in the province, said it has also been working with South Terrace to monitor staffing levels and is adding to the workforce as needed with nurses and other health professionals.

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In a Nov. 9 letter to families, Revera provided a situation update that stated it would be “limiting bed baths to an as needed basis until our staffing levels stabilize” and for the time being, “residents may be required to stay in bed depending on the priority of a given day.”

Steiner worries that residents are not receiving basic care while the centre struggles with staffing.

“They are going to die from neglect, is what I fear,” Steiner said.

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Steiner said she understands the staff are doing the best they can with the current situation, but thinks the issue requires more action.

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“I really get the challenges the system is facing,” she said. “I’ve sent a letter to AHS, to the minister of health [Tyler Shandro], and the premier [Jason Kenney]. We’re done.”

Read more: ‘Unclear processes’ led to days of delay for critical asymptomatic testing at long-term care homes

AHS said in its statement that it is meeting daily with the care home to provide direction for and support with outbreak management, resident and staff swabbing and testing, and care.

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