NDP and McKenzie Towne families call for centralized response

by Morinville News Staff

The NDP Official Opposition called on the provincial government Tuesday to immediately provide a centralized response with hazard pay for workers in seniors facilities, priority access to PPE, and stress tests for facility operators’ pandemic plans in response to the rising number of fatalities in Calgary’s McKenzie Towne. To date, 11 of Alberta’s 24 deaths have been at this specific long-term care facility.

“I know that all Albertans have been shocked and saddened at how many lives have been lost at McKenzie Towne, and how many more residents and staff there are still battling a COVID-19 infection,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “There are critical lessons that must be learned by the provincial government and they must be acted on immediately to protect the lives of these residents and the lives of Albertans in seniors’ facilities across our province.”

Renee Laboucane the daughter of Doreen Gauvreau, who died Monday at the facility is concerned about current care levels.

“I would like all facilities and Alberta Health Services to ensure long-term care homes have access to the human and equipment resources needed to care for our vulnerable, isolated seniors,” Laboucane said. “I want the government to assist and act early if this happens in another facility. Communication is paramount in any crisis. Family members are fearful for the loved ones who are locked inside. Lack of information exasperated the situation. I want facilities and the government to have a communication strategy and plan ready to go. Families need to be communicated to in an effective and timely manner. They want to know the status of their family members’ health and need the ability to check in on them.”

The NDP say some workers have been forced to self-isolate, others have been pressured by their landlords to stay away from the facility, and still, others have stayed away out of concern for their families.

“In other provinces, we have seen the government use their emergency powers to take a more robust role in coordinating planning around this crisis in long-term care,” Notley said. “This includes banning staff movement between facilities, a coordinated hiring plan, priority access to PPE, and a vigorous stress test of the pandemic plan for every other seniors’ facility in Alberta.”

The NDP say they want an examination by the government on how operators plan to maintain basic care levels should significant numbers of staff be unable to work as well as how operators will communicate quickly and accurately to families.

“It’s clear that McKenzie Towne was not prepared for such a dramatic loss of staff, and we simply cannot let that happen again in another building,” Notley said. “It’s the responsibility of the provincial government to prevent that. If the premier understands the urgency of this, he can act today.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Government of Alberta announced that Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw had ordered a provincewide ban on visitors to long-term care centres, licensed group homes, and other facilities as part of the ongoing work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans.

The amended public health order prohibits visitors unless a resident is dying or the visitor is essential for delivering care that cannot be delivered by staff. Family, friends and religious leaders will still be allowed to visit a resident who is dying. In these cases, only one visitor can enter at a time and they cannot interact with any other residents while in the building.

The full story to that decision can be found at https://morinvillenews.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=59931&action=edit

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