Halifax resident Kat Cochrane is worried about their grandmother.
“It would be a death sentence for her at this point,” said Cochrane, standing outside the residential apartment at Northwood Halifax where their grandmother lives.
“She is in advanced stages of adrenal cancer, we are basically just dealing with pain management at this point.”
Cochrane’s grandmother receives palliative and continuing care support, and lives in close proximity to Northwood Halifax’s long-term care residents.
Unlike the long-term care residents, however, she won’t be vaccinated right away because she doesn’t fall within Nova Scotia’s most immediate priority group, which includes long-term care residents, staff and designated caregivers.
“They are in the same building, it’s the same ventilation, there’s always a possibility of some sort of contamination,” said Cochrane.
“Everybody should be vaccinated en masse in my opinion.”
Global News has agreed not to identify the grandmother, as her family is concerned it could jeopardize her chances of placement in long-term care.
While “there’s not a lot of mingling” between long-term care residents and tenants, Cochrane explained, the nurses’ station is three doors away from the unit where their grandmother lives. Those health-care staff come and go in “used” personal protective equipment, they added, and dispose of it in the same garbage chute used by their grandmother.
Cochrane and other relatives of Northwood tenants received notice this week that while vaccine rollout is underway at the long-term care facility, tenants next door will be vaccinated when the province launches immunization for seniors 80 years of age or older, or between 75 and 79 years old.
“We know that people are frustrated and frightened,” said Murray Stenton, spokesperson for Northwood, in an email.
“When the province announced that the COVID vaccines would be coming to Nova Scotia, many finally felt some relief.”
As it stands, Stenton explained, Northwood is following Public Health instructions to first immunize its long-term care residents, staff and designated caregivers. He also said residential tenants and long-term care residents do not have “shared spaces.”
“The only place they could possibly meet would be the entrance to the Manor and currently residents are not permitted to be in that area,” he wrote.
“The elevators are separated so there is no way they would be in contact with each other. That won’t change for a long time.”
As of Wednesday, Northwood Halifax confirmed more than 225 of its 385 of its residents had received their first dose of vaccine. Immunization clinics will begin shortly for staff and designated caregivers, both at the Halifax and Bedford campuses.
Stenton confirmed resident vaccinations will be completed at Bedford by the end of next week. Northwood has identified a total of 591 staff and designated caregivers in need of immunization.
“We don’t want to take a vaccine away from somebody who it could benefit, it’s just been overall the experience that has been had here at Northwood by a lot of the tenants and a lot of the family members of the tenants,” said Cochrane.
While they applauded the staff at Northwood for their hard work and care, they said they feel its tenants were left behind by upper management and the provincial government during the first wave, and waiting for vaccines is another example of that.
In the first phase of vaccination, the province has said it expects to vaccinate 86,000 adults over the age of 75, and at least 7,000 staff involved in the COVID-19 response, as well as family physicians, paramedics and home-care workers.
The second phase, expected to begin in May, will include all remaining health-care workers and essential workers.
The third phase — broad public immunization — is slated to begin in the summer, with the goal of having 75 per cent of Nova Scotians vaccinated by the end of September.