Care home in Saskatoon records 40 COVID-19 cases

·4 min read

Saskatoon's Luther Special Care Home continues to fight the largest long-term care home outbreak in the province.

As of Saturday, 40 residents have tested positive at the facility's outbreak unit, according to the latest update to families and residents. This number is up from 38 on Thursday.

According to its website, the care home also has four active COVID-19 cases among staff.

Greg Meldrum's 85-year-old father Tom is one of the 40 seniors who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

"He hasn't had a fever or anything," said Meldrum. "So fingers crossed that he continues to hold the virus back."

He says the rise in numbers is concerning, but he is not surprised.

"The type of care that my father requires is very hands-on. So, you know, I think it was almost inevitable that there was going to be cases amongst the residents."

One confirmed case at Luther Tower

A spokesperson of LutherCare Communities Saskatoon confirmed on Saturday morning that there is now one COVID-19 case at Luther Tower, an independent living community.

Access between Luther Tower and Luther Special Care Home has been restricted since March, said Nicole Semko, the manager of fund development and community relations in an email.

"Both communities operate independently from one another but are part of the LutherCare Communities organization."

Marcus Grundahl's father Allan is one of the residents at Luther Tower.

"He is in good character, as he always is," said Grundahl.

"He understands the gravity of COVID-19 and the ... potential spread of it."

Grundahl's 82-year-old father told him that residents of the facility are all staying in their suites, which are independent apartments.

Like Meldrum, Grundahl is not surprised that COVID-19 has reached his father's residence.

"It doesn't matter if it is a home-care facility for any age or a high school or a mall," he said.

"This is going to happen and we have to be realistic about that."

Staff at Luther Special Care Home

According to the organization's website, "the number of staff who work on the outbreak unit who are self-isolating has stabilized."

The high number of employees away from work, however, continues to cause concern, the website states.

According to an update to families on Thursday, public health officials advised three members of the management team on Wednesday to self-isolate for 14 days.

"To ensure staff working within the building receive the support they need we enacted a contingency plan and have brought in four individuals to be the hands and feet of those working remotely and allow us to ensure the twomembers of our labour team can focus on filling vacant staffing shifts," Thursday's email update said.

The facility is working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, other long-term care homes in Saskatoon and Home Care, according to their website.

"We also have a couple of staff who have temporarily moved from Regina to help support our efforts," the website says.

According to Saturday's update to families and residents, Luther Special Care Home will be one of nine long-term care homes in the province that take part in a Point of Care Testing pilot.

The testing device would provide results in approximately 15 minutes, the Saturday update said, and training for staff is expected to start next week.

It's tough not to see your loved ones, family member says

Both Grundahl and Meldrum say they both approve of how Luther Special Care Home and Luther Tower have been dealing with the situations, especially in regards to communication with families and residents.

"They were told to stay in their suites until Monday," said Grundahl.

That will give the facility some time to assess the situation and to see if there is any spread, he said.

Meldrum's main concern right now is his father's health.

"It's tough not not to see [your loved ones] in person," he said.

"Not many family members have set foot inside of the unit there where my father is, probably since March 15th."

Staff has been really helpful with FaceTime calls, Meldrum said, but he can't really have a conversation with his father.

During the last call "I could see him ... but he was very noncommunicative, unfortunately."

On Saturday, LutherCare Communities also listed one active employee COVID-19 case at Luther Riverside Terrace on their website.