Mary Corbett lives in a Winnipeg care home that has lost more than 10 per cent of its residents during a COVID-19 outbreak.
Corbett, a former baker in Swan River who celebrated her 103rd birthday in July at Park Manor, is one of the lucky ones. She has recovered from a bout of the novel coronavirus and returned to her regular room, after being quarantined in another room for almost two weeks.
"The only real symptom she complained about was being sleepy," her daughter, Jackie Greig, said Thursday.
"She also had a mild fever, but it was within the range of acceptability. They moved her into a room with another resident who had it and, after 10 days, they call you non-contagious. So she was moved back to her room where she has a window she can see out," Greig said.
"I was able to wave to her again."
Corbett's tale is a happy one compared to many residents at long-term care homes across the province impacted by COVID-19.
It is a population bearing the brunt of the second wave.
Since the pandemic began in Manitoba in March, more than half of COVID-19 deaths in the province — 239 of 451, as of Thursday — were residents of long-term care homes.
In the first 10 days of December, 71 of the 140 announced pandemic deaths in Manitoba were residents of such facilities.
On Thursday, Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, announced 13 COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba; nine were from personal care homes.
Six of those nine were from Charleswood Care Centre in Winnipeg. Since an outbreak was declared at the facility Nov. 20, 19 of its residents have died from COVID-19.
When asked whether the province is doing anything different at personal care homes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Roussin said: "We’ve had, from the very beginning, very robust protocols that are meant to be followed in these locations to prevent the introduction of the virus in place."
"We’re continuing to reinforce those type of messages. We’re looking at soon being able to start a couple pilots (projects) on routine surveillance testing in workers at long-term care facilities, so there’s more to come on that shortly as well," he said.
Charleswood Care Centre is operated by Ontario-based Revera Inc.
Other Revera homes in Winnipeg have had tragic outbreaks, including Maples (51 deaths), Parkview Place (29 deaths), and Heritage Lodge (five deaths).
"There is always a concern when this virus gets introduced into personal care homes," said Roussin, who didn't single out Revera when asked about the situation in such facilities.
"We can see the tragic outcomes that occur. The personal care homes — this is being overseen by the (health) region, and so the oversight includes trying to ensure infection prevention and control measures are being taken, appropriate outbreak measures, some insuring human resources are available."
On the recent deaths at Charleswood, Dr. Rhonda Collins, chief medical officer for Revera, said in a statement: "Our hearts and deep sympathies go out to all the family, friends and communities who have lost a loved one... Revera continues to do everything we can to keep our residents and employees safe as we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at our long-term care homes and retirement residences."
Collins said part of that work is to monitor residents twice a day for symptoms, screen staff at both the beginning and end of shifts, and cohort them to work in assigned resident areas.
"At the direction of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, all residents are to remain in their rooms at all times," she said. "One-on-one recreation activities will be continued to maintain social engagement during this period of isolation."
As well, all indoor and outdoor visits have been cancelled, except to see palliative residents and for designated family support person visits.
Collins said 72 residents and 37 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak at Charleswood was declared. She said residents are in isolation in their rooms, and staff members isolate at home.
As for Greig, she is happy she not only can wave to her mother again, but staff members were able to open her window Thursday, so she could hear her voice.
"And we're glad there's now news of a vaccine being approved," Greig said. "You just want it now to reach your province and get your shot.
"But (Corbett) has already had COVID, so she is probably in better shape than we are."
— with files from Danielle DaSilva
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.