The Alberta NDP hosted a press conference today calling out the UCP to address the growing COVID-19 outbreak in the Extendicare long-term care center in St. Paul.
26 residents and six staff tested positive for COVID-19 on August 30th, which increased to 44 residents and seven staff as of August 31st.
The spread of COVID-19 among staff has led to less care for residents. Marie Sharpe and her sister Germaine Champagne’s mother is a resident at the Extendicare facility in St. Paul and tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday and expressed her concerns at the conference.
“My mother had to stay in a room with someone who had COVID because there isn’t enough room to isolate people,” said Marie Sharpe. “Losing so many staff in a small building means a lot less help for people who live there.”
“I am not blaming the staff, the staff works very hard and there [are] just not enough of them to keep up with this workload.”
Sharpe said the Care Centre needs more level 4 long-term care beds, more home care, and more staff.
“I wish the government would have had more of a plan because they knew we had been warned about another wave coming in the fall.”
NDP Health Critic David Shepherd called on the UCP to address these issues of staffing.
“A large national company as profitable as Extendicare should be able to ensure there is adequate staffing in their facilities. And it is essential that the government hold them accountable to do so,” said Shepherd. “If for some reason Extendicare can’t, then the government is responsible to provide staffing from a different source, such as Alberta Health Services.”
NDP Seniors and Housing Critic Lori Sigurdson emphasized how previous waves of COVID-19 should have prepared the government to be able to address outbreaks in long-term care.
“Throughout the pandemic, Alberta seniors in continuing care have experienced the worst of it,” said Sigurdson. “The Minister of Health promised that there would be reforms to address the problems highlighted through the pandemic, yet he has been silent on this situation in St. Paul.”
Sigurdson and Shepherd wrote to the Minister of Health, Jason Copping, yesterday, to answer how this urgent situation would be addressed. Minister Copping did not respond.