'We need the vaccine now,' says employee of Wakaw, Sask. seniors home with widespread COVID-19 outbreak

·4 min read

An employee at a Wakaw, Sask., seniors home dealing with a widespread COVID-19 outbreak says the home is in desperate need of help.

"We need the vaccine today," said the Lakeview Pioneer Lodge employee, who spoke to CBC News on the condition of confidentiality.

The employee said it started when one of the 44 residents who lived at the home as of the middle last week tested positive for the virus.

According to an update sent to staff by the home's director of care on Wednesday morning and obtained by CBC News, all but two current residents have now tested positive and one of the two residents who has not tested positive is showing symptoms of the virus.

Two of the original 44 inhabitants have died, the employee said. Many of the staff members are infected and isolating at home, they added.

"We are definitely down to less than half of our staff," the employee said.

SHA and health ministry respond

Lakeview Pioneer Lodge is a private home operated under a contract with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which inspects and monitors the home.

CBC News reached out to the Ministry of Health and the SHA Wednesday about the status of the outbreak.

"Since Lakeview Pioneer Lodge is an affiliate long term care home, which means it is not owned by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, any further questions will have to be referred to the long term care home directly," an SHA spokesperson said.

CBC News also reached out to the home's director of care and administrator.

The Lakeview outbreak was not listed among the province's active COVID-19 outbreaks as of early Wednesday afternoon. Only one infected resident was cited as being infected as of Dec. 29, according to a separate list of known cases in nursing homes that is only updated weekly.

CBC News asked the health authority and the Ministry of Health if doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be sent to Lakeview.

"Residents and staff of individual homes will be notified when the clinics are established to deliver their vaccine," a health ministry spokesperson said.

Parkside Extendicare, a privately-owned special care home in Regina where 41 infected residents have died as of Wednesday, has seen some of its workers receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to the SEIU-Wes union.

Under the province's vaccine rollout plan, elderly residents in care homes will be among the first Saskatchewan residents to receive the vaccine.

'It's nobody's fault'

Residents at Lakeview live in single rooms and have been isolated to those rooms, the employee said.

"I don't feel they have done anything wrong," the employee said of the home's administrators. "I don't feel anybody has done anything wrong. We just need the vaccine. It's nobody's fault that this has happened. We don't know why it's accelerated fast. Precautions were in place very strictly right from the get go. We've been following every health guideline."

The SHA has been at the home to offer assistance, the employee said.

"If there is an outbreak, we have boots on the ground immediately to help contain that," Health Minister Paul Merriman said during a COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday. "Helping them out with the PPE, working with any individual group homes that needed extra help with staff. We've pulled staff out of our health care system to be able to work with individuals within their homes to make sure that those residents and staff are safe."

'These are very complex logistics,' top doc says of vaccine

During the same news conference, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab was asked how the province is communicating with care homes about when they will receive the vaccine.

Shahab said all care homes should have their residents' and staff members' vaccine consent forms signed this week.

"Once that is done, you have to wait for the vaccine. The supply is very limited," Shahab said. "There's going to be a somewhat scheduled process, but that can change very quickly."

Shahab added it's "not acceptable" for front-line health or care home workers to delay the process.

"If the staff doesn't show up for whatever reason, next in line gets the vaccine," he said. "And if you run out of vaccine for that day at that facility, then you wait for the next allocation.

"These are very complex logistics and the long-term care, personal care homes need to be ready with all the documentation."

CBC News Graphics
CBC News Graphics

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