COVID-19 outbreak at Saskatoon Tribal Council well being centre

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“Our nurses right now are overwhelmed. They’ve been putting in a lot of extra hours,” he said.

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Zak Vescera

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Dec 07, 2020December 7, 20202 minute read Join the conversation Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand says the outbreak at the organization's health centre is a blow to the city's most vulnerable. Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand says the outbreak at the organization’s health centre is a blow to the city’s most vulnerable. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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Saskatoon Tribal Council chief Mark Arcand says a COVID-19 outbreak at his organization’s health centre means some of the city’s most vulnerable will lose access to key services.

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Arcand said four staff at the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s health centre on 20th Street have tested positive and a fifth is in isolation. The Saskatchewan government declared an outbreak at the centre on Friday.

Arcand said it continues a trend of the pandemic hitting the city’s core neighbourhood hard and leaving vulnerable people without access to crucial services.

“COVID-19 has put a big dent in our day-to-day operations in providing services to children and families in the City of Saskatoon,” he said on Friday.

The STC’s health centre is a hub for public health services in the core neighbourhoods. It normally offers mental health services, addictions counselling and visitation hours with Elders.

Arcand said it’s now only able to continue operating its needle exchange program, which sees between 150 and 200 clients every day.

He said the organization has also been grappling with positive cases in its group homes and other services and facilities, like the White Buffalo Youth Lodge.

“Our nurses right now are overwhelmed. They’ve been putting in a lot of extra hours,” he said.

Last month the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre temporarily closed after a handful of staff tested positive. Prairie Harm Reduction, which is on the same block as the STC’s health centre, reopened on Monday after a positive case pushed it to temporarily close its doors in November.

Arcand said it’s a reminder that COVID-19 is going after the city’s most exposed. He said his focus is on preventing more infections in the community and trying to get services back up and running whenever he can safely do so, though he asked the public to be patient.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel. They’re talking about vaccines … it comes down to getting a cure for COVID-19, and the faster the cure right now, then by all means.”

A Saskatchewan government webpage also noted new outbreaks of COVID-19 at Samaritan Place, a special care home in Saskatoon, as well as St. Augustine Catholic School.

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