All 44 residents at Lakeview Pioneer Lodge in Wakaw have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the facility’s acting administrator. Of those 44 residents, four have died.

Wayne Nogier, the former CEO of the home who has stepped in to help, said most of the residents are doing “relatively well.”

This includes Ann Goy’s sister, Linda Hitchins, who has been living at Lakeview for almost two years.

Goy said her sister is in good shape to recover from the virus — but it’s still a difficult situation for her family.

“It hurts my heart. I mean, she’s my sister. Not being able to see her is unbelievable to begin with … (now) she has tested positive for COVID-19,” said Goy.

“But at the same time, her immune system is fantastic, she’s extremely healthy.”

Goy said her family has been regularly speaking with staff and “since day one, they have done everything humanly possible to keep the residents safe.”

Lakeview is a private care home monitored by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). Most of the staff are self-isolating, said Nogier, so the SHA recommended bringing in people to work who are familiar with the facility.

The Saskatchewan NDP said the government has not done enough to protect seniors from COVID-19.

“The situation at Wakaw is extremely concerning. It’s the latest symptom of a long-term care system that is in crisis,” said NDP health critic Vicki Mowat.

“We need answers from government to make sure that this outbreak is contained and also to ensure that we don’t see outbreaks of similar nature at other care facilities in Saskatchewan.”

The NDP has called on the province to implement a number of measures in long-term care homes, including having no more than two residents per room and in-person inspections. It’s also calling for a public inquiry at Extendicare Parkside in Regina, where 36 residents with COVID-19 had died as of Dec. 29.

In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Health said measures have been in place since April at all SHA facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes screening of staff, masking for those who work in care areas or travel through care areas, cohorting staff to minimize working in more than one facility and access to personal protective equipment.

“The difficult decision was also made to restrict visitors to heath care facilities, including long-term care homes, during the pandemic,” reads the statement.

“This decision was not taken lightly, but it was done to keep residents and health care workers safe. This is a crucial time when we all must work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect those who are among the most vulnerable.”

Masking is also mandatory for all visitors, staff and residents in common areas of long-term care homes. Residents do not have to wear masks in their rooms, said the ministry.

Nogier said that staff are doing their best to isolate Lakeview residents in their rooms. Staff are checking on them hourly, he said, and residents can call at any time if they’re in need of care.