Seniors scared following another wave of long-term care COVID-19 outbreaks

Hundreds of seniors are in isolation at AgeCare Skypointe in Calgary after a COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed two lives.

Visits to the facility are suspended and many on in the inside are getting worried about the spread of the outbreak. Twenty-nine residents and 14 staff have tested positive.

Wayne Hykaway is one of those who tested positive for COVID-19. He spoke to Global News from inside the facility. He said his wife, Judy, is also a resident at the home and lives with dementia.

“I was feeding Judy and giving her a kiss goodnight, now I can’t,” Hykaway said. “I am in the same room we are both isolated and I’m keeping my social distancing. I have staff come feed her because I can’t — I don’t want to get too close.”

“With it escalating, it quite frankly scares the dickens out of me and I have complained to staff, I have to qualify some staff, not all, but they come and don’t wear their masks properly,” Hykaway said.

“They were having their potluck meals and not social distancing and sharing food out of one pot.”

“I’m not trying to be a trouble maker or stir a negative pot, it’s not everyone, but it’s enough that now that I have to speak out. I am not intimidated,” Hykaway said.

Global News has made multiple attempts to reach the management team at AgeCare Skypointe but our requests for comment were not returned. However we have obtained an internal memo that states: “They are working tirelessly to contain this outbreak, meeting daily with the medical officer of health and the ahs outbreak management team.”

The letter to residents also reads: “Staff continue to practice physical distancing and wear PPE. As an added precaution, we have provided all AgeCare SkyPointe staff with eye protection or a face shield to wear with their surgical/medical mask.”

Loved ones on the outside are just as concerned. Kathleen Cameron’s mother, Marilyn, lives at AgeCare Skypointe.

“I worry about her depression, she tells me every day, she says: ‘If I don’t get out of here, I’m going to go crazy,’” Cameron said.

“I worry about her getting COVID and she talks about giving up.”

The number of long-term care homes affected by the virus is starting to grow and advocates are concerned. Michael Sondermann’s parents live in another facility, Millrise Place. He is a passionate advocate, fighting for better care for seniors.

“How do you have all of these care homes getting outbreaks if workers aren’t spreading it, and so we are left to suppose and the supposition I have is they’re allowing residents to go home with family members,” Sondermann said. “Here we are, weeks after Thanksgiving, and now we have this flourishing of things. To me, it’s pretty evident what happened.”

He’s frustrated with what he said is little change happening.

“I don’t see change or desire from the people in charge and there’s no momentum to change it,” Sondermann said.

“If lessons would have been learned, different decisions would have been made.”

Shelley O’Neill is a registered nurse and is also working to improve long-term care homes. She said the number of positive cases will rise.

“We started to open up and families were coming into visit,” O’Neill said. “I can’t work in multiple sites anymore and I think it lost sight in terms of people’s awareness because we are containing it, but it’s starting to creep up again.”

“I don’t think we’ve contained it in a way that provides a level of safety the way that we ought to,” O’Neill said.

As of Friday, Oct. 30, AHS was reporting outbreaks at 30 long-term care and supportive living homes in the province.

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