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AHS must stop the suffering in private continuing-care homes

Health minister must follow duty to protect elderly and disabled from COVID-19

Jul 29, 2020

AUPE members concerned CMO isn't receiving timely information

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EDMONTON - Following another deadly outbreak of COVID-19 at a private continuing-care facility and AHS’s failure to protect the vulnerable residents, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) members are demanding answers and action from the Health Minister.

On Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, claimed AHS had taken over operations of the Good Samaritan Society’s Edmonton Southgate home to help with the outbreak. 

The health authority later confirmed it decided against a public takeover – despite 12 residents dying from COVID-19 at the long-term care (LTC) home – and had not updated Dr. Hinshaw before she delivered her report. Yesterday, three more residents died.

“This is deeply concerning on two fronts,” says AUPE Vice-President Susan Slade. “One: the Chief Medical Officer isn’t getting the timely information she needs to make life-saving decisions and keep Albertans informed. Two: AHS isn’t stopping the spread.” 

“Throughout the pandemic,” adds Slade, “private LTC operators have proven they can’t be trusted to shelve their agendas and prioritize the health of vulnerable Albertans and the staff who support them.”

In Alberta, more private continuing-care homes than public ones have been ravaged by outbreaks and outbreak-mismanagement. In early May, at the peak of the pandemic, there were 31 outbreaks at continuing-care facilities, 25 of them—more the 80 per cent—were in private care. 

While AHS has taken over only two private sites to mitigate the outbreaks, Health Minister Shandro continues to keep private hands on the wheel of the other COVID-19 hotspots.

“Shandro continues letting rich corporations profit from Albertans suffering,” says Slade, “and letting private facilities understaff the floor which puts enormous weight on underpaid workers. It’s disgusting.” 

While the Good Samaritan Society is a not-for-profit, they’ve continued to hide their financial documents. In bargaining earlier this year, AUPE requested those documents because of fears the Good Samaritan Society is not directing its AHS funding where it’s most needed: frontline workers serving vulnerable people.

The Southgate Care Centre, which is staffed by AUPE members, currently has over 50 active COVID-19 cases.

“How many more deaths – how much more suffering – before AHS decides it’s appropriate for them to step in?” continues Slade. “This is why AUPE members are raising their voices and renewing the call to end private control of our continuing-care system and bring all health-care services into the public sphere. This way all Albertans in continuing-care have equal access to the quality care they deserve.”


For more information:

Celia Shea, Communications Staff 780-720-8122

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