The outbreak at the Luther Special Care Home in Saskatoon is a signal that more needs to be done in the province to slow the spread of the virus, according to Greg Meldrum.
Meldrum’s 85-year-old father Tom is one of the 28 people who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 at the home.
“What’s important is that we need to get real serious about this,” he said.
The last week has been an incredibly stressful one for Meldrum and his family. News that a single COVID-19 case had been recorded at the facility was shared with family first on Nov. 15, and in the next few days the case count would continue to climb.
Meldrum said he’s been happy with the level of communication from the care home — as the family has been getting updated on their father’s health and the situation on a whole — but said the fact COVID-19 was able to enter and spread through the facility so quickly is worrying.
“All of the measures that have been taken in basically a healthcare setting still didn’t work,” he said.
“That’s not a criticism of the wonderful, hard-working, dedicated people of Luther Care. That’s not a criticism in any way shape or form, it’s an unfortunate reality that our best laid plans are not working.”
Meldrum said he thinks it doesn’t make sense that he can go to a bingo hall, or out for beers with his buddies, while COVID-19 spreads quickly through long-term care facilities. He says it’s time to start a conversation about further restrictions.
“What the hell are we going to do if our health-care system collapses? What are we going to do if our health-care providers and care aides collapse?” he asked. “It scares me, right. We need to get real about this.”
One of six current outbreaks
According to its website, the Luther Special Care home is home to 55 residents, meaning roughly half of those who live there are infected.
The outbreak at the Luther Special Care Home was officially declared on Nov. 17 and it’s one of six outbreaks declared at long-term care facilities in the province. Two are located in Saskatoon, one is located in Regina with one each in the communities of Indian Head, Moose Jaw and Wolseley.
On Saturday, the province saw record high new cases of COVID-19, with 439 cases recorded across the province and 170 cases in Saskatoon alone.
A news release from the government attributed the record-high case count to a record-high number of tests processed, but in a statement, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe called the numbers “very concerning.”
“Our seven-day average for new cases is now 203, which is the highest it has ever been,” said Moe in the statement.
He noted that it’s too soon to know if the measures put in place by the government are having any effect, but said his government is in the process of considering further measures, with more information set to be delivered next week.
“For now, let’s all do our part to keep ourselves and those around us safe,” said Moe, who encouraged people to reduce their contacts, maintain physical distancing and practice good hand hygiene.
However, it appears a lockdown is not an option for the government at this time, as on Saturday Moe said a shutdown would be disastrous for businesses in Saskatchewan and Canada.
He said his government is looking at “every lever” to avoid a lockdown.
In a statement sent to the media, LutherCare Communities operations lead Ivan Olfert said the care home is working closely with public health authorities to “move Luther Special Care Home into recovery.”
“We are taking every precaution necessary to contain the virus, with the health and safety of our residents and staff remaining our top priority.”
Meldrum has been told his father is doing well, and while he’s a little more tired than usual, he is still eating, which Meldrum’s taking as a positive sign. But as someone who cares a great deal about his loved one, alongside the staff and other residents at the home, he said the last few days have been challenging.
“It’s very difficult to be on the outside looking in,” he said.