COVID-19 Outbreak declared at Columbian Centre

The Columbian Centre in Prince Albert has had a COVID-19 outbreak declared./Michael Oleksyn

The Columbian Centre seniors living complex in Prince Albert was recently placed under lockdown after public health detected five cases of COVID-19 among residents of the building.

According to facility manager Rob Fahlman, after an initial positive test was confirmed on Dec. 23 public health informed Columbian Centre that seniors are not allowed to leave their rooms and visitors are not permitted.

“People were just getting ready to leave for their families. So they dropped everything and just stayed the course,” Fahlman said.

A letter displayed on the building’s entrance states that home care staff are allowed to enter with the proper personal protective equipment. The letter was given to Fahlman by public health after the initial positive case on Dec. 23.

“I am most concerned about the ones that have tested positive and it just makes me feel more at ease that they are comfortable. Some of them have symptoms but for the most part they are doing very well isolating in their own suites,” he explained.

After the initial positive test, all residents were tested on Christmas Eve and the other four positive results were returned last weekend.

Fahlman says things are going well inside the building.

“It was tough on everyone but everyone is doing really quite well. The vast majority is doing really quite well including the five cases that are positive are all doing well, isolating well in their own suites. I try to phone them daily to find out how they are doing,” he explained.

The province, in the official listings on the province’s online dashboard, has not yet listed the outbreak. The last update to Prince Albert outbreaks was on Dec. 21.

Fahlman said that everyone, including negative cases in the building, is handling the situation well and can get supplies in a safe manner.

“We are lucky we have a porch that can still be divided by a closed door so people drop off supplies and then we allow people to pick them up after they are gone.”

The Saskatchewan Health Authority has also been great as a guide, Falhman said.

“We have added extra sanitization shifts in the building. We already had a strict sanitization schedule before that and then of course we had somebody from Public Health come in and suggest extra so that is what we are going to do and we have been doing,” he said.

Fahlman stressed that staff are busy making sure everyone is comfortable and following protocol.

With it being a stressful situation, Fahlman feels that the problems can be ironed out with effective communication and that has been achieved. He compared the adaption to what happened in March when the province first went into a lockdown situation.

“There was so much unknown back then now people are kind of getting reminded that this is what it felt like back then and it usually takes a week or two before they really settle in. Overall people are doing very well,” he said.

Fahlman noted that the entire building would be tested again on Saturday if there are people available. They expect to get an update on the situation around the middle to late part of next week.

“So we just wait for that day and see if we have any additional cases and hope for the best.”