The two foundations that operate the seniors’ lodges in Cold Lake, Bonnyville, St. Paul, and Elk Point both say the Covid experience has been difficult, but staff and residents are coping.

The Lakeland Housing Foundation operates Cold Lake Lodge and Bonnylodge; the M.D. of St. Paul Foundation operates Sunnyside Manor and Elk Point Heritage Lodge.

Chris Vining, chair of the Lakeland Housing Foundation, says a staff member had a positive Covid test at Cold Lake Lodge last week. The outbreak appears to be confined to the single case, and Vining says lodge staff was prepared.

“It was really a credit to the lodge and the staff. They had a plan,” he said. “We knew this was going to happen. It was just a matter of how do we respond to that? I really commend the staff, they did a fantastic job.”

Contact among residents and staff was restricted and enhanced cleaning protocols were put into place, he said. Designated family members are still allowed to visit, and residents may leave the lodge for specific reasons like medical appointments.

Brigitte Sakaluk, Chief Administrative Officer for of the M.D. of St. Paul Foundation, says there have been no positive Covid tests in their facilities to date. Their 147 residents and 64 staff strictly adhere to provincial regulations, she said, and the foundation regularly re-evaluates the additional measures they have in place.

“Residents at this time can still go out. We are asking that the residents remain vigilant in their actions to protect themselves and others around them by limiting their outings to critical need,” Sakaluk said. “The residents are following the public health orders by masking and performing hand hygiene when they go out.”

The lodges are not immune to the pandemic fatigue everyone else is experiencing, but people are dealing with it.

“The staff and residents are managing very well,” Sakaluk said. “Both lodges are offering a variety of activities for the residents while adhering to Covid-19 protocols. Staff are working very hard, and being very vigilant in following the public health orders. 

“I believe that both residents and staff are experiencing some pandemic fatigue,” she said. Consistently following Covid-19 safety protocols requires considerable will power and consistent sources of motivation. 

“All staff take their jobs seriously and are always concerned for the health and wellbeing of the residents.”

Vining says communication among staff, residents, and families has been important.

“There was a lot of adjustment, especially in March when things started,” he said. “I think the residents are doing a pretty good job with adjusting to things. Staff are really working hard to keep morale up and keep activities going and to keep families involved, keep families informed.”

Cold Lake Lodge has received donated iPads so families can keep in touch via Skype or FaceTime, he said.

At both organizations, health and safety come first.

“Our first priority, as always, is to maintain the health and safety of our residents and staff,” Sakaluk said.  “We understand that people are really eager to be with others, but we need to balance that with our accountability to the safety of our residents and staff. 

“As the pandemic evolves we’re going to evolve with it. This may mean tightening restrictions or loosening them, it’s a matter of the current situation. We need to be responsive, proactive, and ensure that the residents, families, staff and community are in the know.”

Vining feels the same way.

“We pride ourselves on really providing a great living environment for our residents,” he said. 

“I think that the staff have worked under some very trying circumstances over this past nine months, and I think our resident families have been working with our staff alongside of that to make things work. And I think they deserve a huge compliment.”