Let me begin by updating you on the two outbreak situations we are currently dealing with at our two Lethbridge Alberta retirement communities. For our staff, residents and families at these locations, please refer to your site-specific updates and communication for current outbreak protocols and restrictions in place at your homes.
Seasons Lethbridge Gardens was declared in outbreak status on Sunday, March 14th. We presently have one positive resident case. Alberta Health Services (AHS) advised that a Homecare Aid who had performed care services in this community has also tested positive for COVID-19. We are working collaboratively with AHS to identify residents who were exposed, and they will be tested either today or Thursday of this week.
Seasons Lethbridge was declared in outbreak on Monday, March 15th. At present, we have no staff or resident cases, however; similarly to Seasons Lethbridge Gardens, AHS advised that a Homecare Aid who had performed care services in this community tested positive for COVID-19. We are working collaboratively with AHS to identify residents who were exposed and will advise residents directly when testing will occur.
As of yesterday, all Seasons Retirement Community residents who were able to, have had at least one dose of the vaccine for COVID-19. Unfortunately, not all staff or Designated Essential Visitors have been afforded the same opportunity. With the added risk of new, more transferable variants we continue to ask that everyone please remain vigilant.
As a result of our vaccination progress, we have been receiving many questions about reconsidering our safety protocols. I would like to share with you our answers to the most commonly asked questions from these past two weeks:
Question #1: I am a resident of Seasons and have been vaccinated. Why do I still have to wear a mask when outside of my suite?
Question #2: I am a Designated Visitor who is seeing a vaccinated resident. Why do I have to wear a mask?
Question #3: I am a Designated Visitor who is vaccinated and I am visiting a vaccinated resident. Why do we have to wear masks?
Question #4: I am a resident of Seasons and have been vaccinated why can’t I freely leave the premises like the general public?
The answers are the same for all of the questions above:
A retirement community is held to a different standard than the average local business (as it should be). Seasons is required to follow the enhanced directives and orders from our provincial government, our sector regulators and local public health and city by-laws because of our vulnerable population.
Both the Alberta and Ontario governments are concerned about new variants and their rapid transmission amongst non-vaccinated staff and the essential visitors who support our residents.
Most importantly, provincial and local orders, directives and guidance have not yet been amended to address specifics as to vaccinated residents, visitors and masking. Fully vaccinated means 2 doses of the current vaccines offered in Canada. Therefore, all existing standards and policies remain in place.
Directives, Orders & Guidance for Your Reference:
- Ministry of Health (MOH) Mask Guidance
- Directive #3
- Ministry for Seniors & Accessibility (MSAA) Guidance Document
- Retirement Home Regulatory Authority (RHRA) Reference Document
Seasons Philosophy on Orders, Directives & Guidance:
As per the above reference material (which is only a snapshot), there are directives, orders and guidance from various agencies that Seasons must adhere to. Often the documentation will stipulate that the retirement community must have its own policy; in this instance, Seasons will always err on the side of best practice. As mentioned earlier, not all team members and designated essential visitors have had access to their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This will be even truer for general visitors when our doors open fully. COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have any symptoms (asymptomatic spread). This is why we continue to request that everyone in a Seasons community wear a medical mask, even if they do not have any symptoms. While I appreciate that you and/or your family and friends may find this approach frustrating, Seasons is ensuring that we do our utmost to protect the health and safety of our residents, visitors and team members.
As mentioned in last week’s memo, Seasons is advocating in Ontario and Alberta to our sector regulators about retirement home restrictions given our amazing resident vaccination penetration rates. Like you, we recognize that access to the hairdresser, typical dining service and activities are important to connecting and caring about one another. We want life to return to normal for our staff and residents and we are prepared to act quickly once those directives are mandated, making it safe to do so.
I appreciate that you are tired of these restrictions and anxious to get on with life as it once was. Please know that all decisions are being made with the collective health and safety of our staff and residents in mind. It may feel as though the COVID-19 finish line is in sight, but we are certainly not there yet. Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation. Please maintain your vigilance.
Chief Operating Officer,
Seasons Retirement Communities
For additional online resources for COVID-19 you can visit the following sites: