The year is off to a good start for residents of the Hamlets at Cedarwood Station retirement home in Airdrie.
Not only was the senior living facility lifted from its COVID-19 outbreak status Jan. 2, but according to General Manager Loy Pacheco, residents will start to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine this month.
“I was very excited,” she said. “I think it’s a positive step and it’s good news we get the vaccination early.”
Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan includes a phased approach that started with immunizing healthcare workers in intensive care units and respiratory therapists in December 2020.
This month, immunizations will be offered to other vulnerable population segments, according to AHS, including home care workers and residents of long term care and supportive living facilities.
“Our goal is to immunize Albertans as safely and effectively as possible,” stated a post on alberta.ca.
As of Jan. 3, AHS states nearly 23,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Alberta. According to AHS, exact amounts and timelines are subject to change.
"We will amend our approach as needed depending on vaccine supply,” AHS' post stated.
The arrival of a vaccine is good news for Hamlets at Cedarwood Station, where a COVID-19 outbreak was declared in December 2020. The facility, which Pacheco said has approximately 65 residents, experienced 17 positive cases of the virus and four fatalities.
Despite the outbreak being lifted, she said the facility will remain under lockdown, with no visitors allowed until further notice.
“The outbreak was just lifted [Jan. 2] so we’re going to maintain pretty tight controls,” she said. “We’re not going to allow visitors quite yet, and we need to wait and get used to being out of outbreak. Sanitization as per Alberta Health standards and guidelines are our normal way of life here, anyhow.”
Pacheco said she hopes the arrival of vaccines at senior care facilities signals a light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As residents of the Hamlets at Cedarwood Station start to be immunized, other senior care facilities in Airdrie are also eagerly anticipating their first supply of vaccine. A representative from Extendicare, which oversees Luxstone Manor, said staff at the facility are drawing up permission forms so residents will be able to receive the immunization as soon as it arrives.
“Alberta is receiving the first shipments of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, which are being prioritized for residents in long-term care, supportive housing and retirement homes,” the statement read. “While we don’t yet know when we will be receiving vaccines for our residents, we are preparing by getting consent forms signed now so that we can ensure our residents can be vaccinated without delay.”
Luxstone Manor declared a COVID-19 outbreak in November 2020. According to Extendicare’s statement, 23 residents and five staff members contracted the virus, and one resident passed away due to complications.
“We are delighted to report that Luxstone Manor, owned by Leva Group, has been declared out of outbreak by public health,” Extendicare’s email stated.
While two of Airdrie’s senior care facilities are no longer listed as COVID-19 outbreaks, Bethany Airdrie posted in its Jan. 4 daily bulletin the facility was reporting 40 cases, with 19 cases among employees and 21 among residents. According to the bulletin, two residents died of the virus between Dec. 30, 2020 and Jan. 4.
In an email to the Airdrie City View on Jan. 5, David Ghoris, a communications representative for Bethany Seniors, said AHS has contacted Bethany Airdrie to schedule vaccinations for both residents and employees.
“Resident vaccination will occur at the site, and staff vaccines and location are being managed by AHS,” he said. “Employee contact details have been provided to AHS and vaccinations are already underway.”