Edmonton's Kensington Village long-term care unit reports first COVID-19 death

A resident in the long-term care unit of Edmonton's Kensington Village died on Thursday of COVID-19, the first reported death in that part of the facility, which has dealt with an outbreak over the past month.

The woman, aged 72, was swabbed on Tuesday and confirmed positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. She later died that same day.

"Our staff are devastated at the loss and how quick the resident that passed away yesterday, how quick it happened," said Lynn Haugen, executive director of care with Shepherd's Care, which operates Kensington Village.

The source of the positive case has yet to be confirmed, but Shepherd's Care is looking at the possibility that it came from an asymptomatic staff member, as visitors have been banned at Kensington Village facilities.

"In the long-term area upon finding out that the resident was positive, we've placed everybody on isolation immediately," Haugen said.

"So as of April 23 all long-term care residents are in their rooms receiving tray service."

In total, 21 residents and eight staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Three residents have died.

Eight residents remain in hospital.

Before the woman's case, the virus had only been detected in the supportive-living facility, along with the condo and apartment units.

The facility has been dealing with an outbreak since mid-March. None of the seven other seniors facilities run by Shepherd's Care in Edmonton or Barrhead have had residents test positive for COVID-19.

Request for asymptomatic testing denied

Shepherd's Care requested asymptomatic testing of all residents and staff at Kensington Village, something Alberta's medical officer of health announced was available for facilities dealing with an outbreak as of April 17.

But Haugen said that request was recently denied by the Edmonton zone medical officer of health.Haugen said.

"We'll continue to petition the medical officer of health to support us in getting our staff and residents at that site tested," Haugen said.

On Friday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said she would need to follow up with colleagues in the Edmonton zone about why the request was denied.

"I did advise my colleagues, the local medical officers of health that for outbreaks that were currently underway that they could use their clinical judgment based on whether or not they felt that particular outbreak would benefit from testing of all current residents and staff," Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw added that if there are weeks with no cases at a facility, there may be more risk than benefit in requiring people to get tested if there isn't much likelihood of additional cases.