'There's always that concern': Son of senior living through care home outbreak urges daily testing
EDMONTON -- If NHL players can get tested for COVID-19 on a daily basis, why can't seniors living in a care home where an outbreak has just been contained?
That's what Gary Tarapaski wants to know.
"They don’t even have an outbreak in their system but yet you’ve got a nursing home where the residents are basically trapped in there," said the Edmonton man, whose 88-year-old mother resides in the Good Samaritan Southgate Centre
As of July 30, the disease had killed 21 residents at the long-term care facility and infected another 70 people — 54 residents and 16 employees.
The outbreak has been contained to the second and third floors of the centre, according to the Good Samaritan Society.
The society said it is conducting daily symptom screening, including temperature checks, and Alberta Health Services confirmed that all asymptomatic staff and residents are being tested weekly for COVID-19. Anyone showing symptoms is immediately isolated and tested.
Despite the measures, there's still worry lingering in the back of Tarapaski's mind.
"It gives me a little bit of relief but there’s always that concern that it could spread to her floor," said Tarapaski.
His mother lives on the first floor, and even though she's already tested negative for COVID-19, he thinks it only makes sense to keep closer tabs on the spread of the disease by testing all residents daily.
"I was told they test people if they have symptoms," said Tarapaski.
The facility takes testing guidance from Alberta Health Services, which issued a statement to CTV News saying, "AHS and GSS leaders are also meeting daily to provide direction, consultation and support in terms of outbreak management, resident and staff swabbing and testing, and the care of clients."
AHS said COVID-19 tests only detect active infections, and because of that there's "currently no requirement for daily asymptomatic COVID-19 testing."
Tarapaski said he'd also like to see additional questions added to the enhanced screening process when staff enter the building.
"It doesn't account for people that, when you go out in public and you go into covered spaces, there's no social distancing, there's nobody wearing masks," he said. "You could be standing next to somebody that's asymptomatic and you have no idea, so that really doesn't seem to be accounted for on the questionnaire, that I’m aware of."
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional five patient deaths at the centre on Thursday, bringing the total death toll to 21.
"What I can say is that as of late last week AHS did offer significant additional support to this particular facility to make sure they did have everything they needed," she said.
On Monday, Hinshaw reported AHS assumed control over the care facility, but AHS later clarified while it was working closely with Southgate, it had not taken it over.
With a report from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson.