N.S. retirement home operator pushes province for on-site COVID-19 vaccines

·3 min read
Shannex operates this retirement living complex in the Clayton Park area of Halifax.  (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Shannex operates this retirement living complex in the Clayton Park area of Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

One of Nova Scotia's largest nursing-home operators is urging the province to bring COVID-19 vaccination clinics into retirement living centres.

Only seniors in licensed long-term care homes in the province can get vaccinated on site. The thousands of seniors living in independent or community settings like the Parkland complex in Halifax, owned by Shannex, must go to public clinics.

"For the health and safety of our residents, it is our hope that as vaccine supply increases, we can assist in the vaccine rollout by holding on-site vaccination clinics in our retirement living communities," said Katherine Van Buskirk, Shannex's director of communications and community affairs.

She said many residents can't travel independently to a public clinic.

"Retirement living residents are at risk of COVID-19 because they live in close proximity to other seniors and receive care and services provided by a workforce that lives in the larger community," Van Buskirk told CBC News in a statement.

Only Nova Scotia seniors in licensed long-term care homes are getting vaccinated on site.
Only Nova Scotia seniors in licensed long-term care homes are getting vaccinated on site.

Shannex has 17 long-term care homes in Nova Scotia that are licensed by the Department of Health and Wellness. Its Parkland Retirement Living division has seven locations in Nova Scotia. The average age of seniors who lives at Parkland is 80.

Many seniors living 'fairly independently,' says Strang

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said Public Health officials are aware of the issue and are looking at how best to accommodate those seniors.

"Many of these people, they're still living fairly independently and they do have themselves or family that can get around on a frequent basis already. And so coming to a vaccine clinic is not necessarily that much of a challenge," he told CBC News on Friday.

This week, Nova Scotia opened a vaccination clinic at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, where 500 seniors over the age of 80 were vaccinated. They were chosen by a random draw. The province will hold more clinics across the province for that age group next month.

Strang said Nova Scotia has a limited supply of vaccines and lacks the resources to open more clinics.

Parkland GM says on-site clinics safer, more convenient

Earlier this month, Parkland general manager Jennifer Shannon wrote to residents and their families, encouraging anyone with concerns to contact their MLA.

Shannon followed up this week, telling residents and families that Shannex continues to advocate for on-site clinics.

"This is a more convenient and safer solution for residents," she wrote.

Strang said Friday that the public clinics are safe. He said he visited the IWK clinic and people were physically distancing, wearing masks and taking other precautions.

"We have infection-control practitioners at the hospital that have provided guidance about how to have the right level of infection control as people come into these clinics," he said.

"So I'm very comfortable that these clinics are actually very safe."

MORE TOP STORIES