Golden Links Lodge addresses concerns over group activities held prior to COVID outbreak

WINNIPEG — The COVID-19 outbreak at Golden Links Lodge in Winnipeg continues to grow, and now the care home is responding to questions about recreational activities that had been taking place inside the facility prior to the outbreak.

According to the latest numbers from the care home, there have been 53 cases among residents and 20 cases among care home staff.

The province said three people have died, leaving family members concerned about their loved ones.

On Nov. 15 Jordan Hanna found out his grandma tested positive for the disease.

“It’s a flood of fear,” said Hanna.

There have been more than 70 cases linked to Golden Links Lodge since an outbreak was declared on Nov. 11.

Photos posted on the Golden Links Facebook page on Nov. 6 show residents gathered inside the care home for a worship service. Three days later it showed them taking part in an exercise class. Activities Hanna feels are important but are too risky given the way the virus spreads.

“The seniors here are anywhere from 60 to 100 and they’re already stuck in one place for so long,” said Hanna. “It’s hard to deny them that entertainment or excitement or connection. So I think it has its place but definitely not right now.”

Provincial guidelines only say people in personal care homes who are isolating should not participate in group activities.

In an email to CTV News the care home’s CEO Marcy-Lynn Larner said there is no evidence any recreation activities have contributed to the outbreak.

Larner said contact tracing indicates the initial transmission is staff-related.

“Every attempt has always been made to ensure the well-being of our residents is always our priority while balancing meaningful stimulation and activity to our residents’ lives,” Larner said.

Like other long term care centres, the not-for-profit care home has been dealing with staffing shortages due to infections among workers.

Four City of Winnipeg paramedics and a district chief of operations responded to Golden Links last Thursday night as part of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s rapid response team. Full assessments were conducted on seven residents — one was taken to hospital.

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service returned Friday, completed more assessments, and vowed to continue providing support when needed.

Emergency crews cleared the scene Friday night and have not been required to return, a WFPS spokesperson said Tuesday.

Hanna said it’s clear more help is needed and wants the military called in.

“So they can one, care for people — make sure that they’re attended to and also do what they did in Ontario and Quebec and start reviewing the best practices, how they’re handling things and provide a report,” said Hanna.

Last week Golden Links put out a call to families to help out with their loved ones at the care home.

Larner said a few families have been attending, while others enlisted support through an agency that provides companionship.

According to Larner, four residents are on what the care home describes as social leaves with their families.

Larner said staff have been working around the clock to care for residents who remain at Golden Links and promised to keep families updated. 

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