As a Chilliwack care home confirms a patient with a positive case of COVID-19, Fraser Health say they are working to prevent the virus from entering facilities including the Fraser Hope Lodge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit seniors homes hard with outbreaks and deaths from the virus concentrated in these facilities across the country.
Fraser Health announced Wednesday that a resident at Chilliwack’s Eden Care Centre was diagnosed with the virus and is in isolation in the long term care portion of the facility. Fraser Health added while outbreaks at five other long term care and assisted living facilities in the health region are over, four more facilities – one in Surrey, one in Burnaby and two in Abbotsford – have a positive case.
In late March, Hope’s seniors assisted and independent living homes, as well as the Lodge, closed their doors to visitors and implemented physical distancing and other health screening measures.
Since then, restrictions have tightened at these facilities and none have had any confirmed cases of COVID-19.
At Park Street Manor, an independent living facility with a communal kitchen, manager John Duff said people are now taking their three meals in their own rooms and the doors of the facility are locked. At Riverside Manor, an assisted and independent living facility, staff are wearing masks and eye protection and while the facility is closed to visitors, during the Easter weekend families were able to visit with residents separated by glass doors.
The Fraser Hope Lodge, which houses 49 residents and one respite client, is the health authority’s only rural long term care facility and the only facility in Hope to provide 24 hour “complex nursing care.”
Chief medical health officer Dr. Martin Lavoie said Fraser Health is working on reducing the risk of bringing COVID-19 into the lodge.
“We are restricting the number of visitors. We are asking people to be screened when they go into the facility to see if they have any respiratory symptoms and if that’s the case, they should not go in,” he said. “We are asking people to wear appropriate (personal protective equipment) when inside the facility, we enhanced the cleaning of common areas, we changed the way we offer meals to residents, etcetera.”
Lavoie said screening, which facilities are instructed to do twice a day, includes taking temperatures and asking screening questions about symptoms including “fever, runny nose, cough, sneezing, chills, malaise, potentially headache as well. Checking for anything that could be a respiratory infection,” Lavoie said.
As for testing for COVID-19, this would only be done for people who are symptomatic Dr. Lavoie said. The health authority is not testing people coming into the facility.
Single site restrictions a work in progress: Fraser Health
Steps are being taken at the affected care homes, Fraser Health said, to make sure staff who work at these homes don’t work at any other facilities.
Fraser Health did not confirm whether staff who work at the Fraser Hope Lodge are only working at that one site or at others in the health region.
Spokesperson Aletta Vanderheyden said a “significant number of sites” have restricted their staff to working at one site and work is ongoing to limit staff working at long term care and other healthcare facilities as per an April 10 order from Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. Once plans for this are completed, Vanderheyden said the order instructs health authorities to issue “appropriate single site orders.”
Henry said the movement of health care staff between facilities was one thing that has facilitated outbreaks in a number of B.C. facilities. In early April, she acknowledged that the order was only in place at the COVID-19 affected facilties.
Riverside Manor, implemented a single site policy on April 2. “So the people that worked at multiple sites had to make a choice, most stayed,” manager Virginia Roberts said. While they are sometimes short-staffed, they are making it work she added. Park Street Manor’s employees also only work at that one facility Duff confirmed.
Early on in the COVID-19 response in B.C., two care sites emerged as worst case scenarios with multiple fatalities of residents. Since the Lynn Valley and Haro Park care centre outbreaks, Henry said most outbreak at seniors and care homes have been confined to a single person – either a resident or staff member.
“Both of those are really full-blown outbreaks where we have a number of both staff and residents who have been affected,” she said March 31, of the two early outbreaks.
“But the other ones really reflect the fact that we have taken such an aggressive approach to monitoring, to testing and to preventing illness coming into our long-term care homes.”
– Tom Fletcher contributed reporting