Three people who tested positive amid a COVID-19 outbreak at a care home in Wakaw, Sask., have died.
Wayne Nogier, interim CEO of Lakeview Pioneer Lodge, said almost all residents and many staff members have been infected.
The health ministry confirmed 43 of 44 residents are infected, while 19 staff are sick. Nogier said the number of staff infected is higher — about 45 people.
“The thing that hits us here is the fact that the administrative team was part of the tests that came back positive,” Nogier told Global news. “It really paralyzes an organization to be able to operate.”
The outbreak started at the end of December, and spread rapidly after that, said Gilles Leblanc, board chair for the home.
“It pretty much exploded in a matter of three or four days,” he said. “It was hard for anybody in the facility or on the board to react. We felt helpless.”
Gilles said he hasn’t been able to enter the building since March as a safety precaution.
While the source of the outbreak is unknown, Nogier said it could have come from asymptomatic staff or from residents who attended necessary appointments outside of the home.
“Once it’s in here, our residents aren’t masked like we are. They are resuming life at a normal capacity when we’re not in outbreak,” he said.
“We could have one resident infect an entire population in the course of 24 hours.”
Residents are isolating in their rooms. Many of them are asymptomatic, Nogier said.
“Residents are coping very well with this virus,” he said.
Statistics provided by Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health show that of the 155 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the province in 2020, 65 were in care home settings
Lakeview Pioneer Lodge is an affiliate organization of the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Nogier said the SHA has been “exceptionally responsive,” assisting with staffing and infection control.
Staff have been following strict safety protocols, but Nogier said they’ve been re-educated on PPE use and how the virus spreads.
Going forward, he has his eyes set on vaccination, but noted there are logistical challenges with transporting vaccines to rural areas.
Wakaw is about 95 km northeast of Saskatoon.