COVID-19 outbreak at North Van nursing home spread before recognition


One of the reasons that the COVID-19 outbreak in a nursing home in North Vancouver became so quickly out of control and with such deadly consequences is that the disease was so mild at first that it was recognized only when it had already spread to the home for the aged.

“It was not detected in its early stages and was well advanced by the time it was recognized,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s chief medical officer of health, on Wednesday about the Lynn Valley epidemic. Care Center.

In retrospect, said Henry, “there were quite a few people, both residents and staff,” who had the coronavirus at the time the outbreak was recognized.

It’s a similar situation to what happened in Washington state at the start of the epidemic there, said Henry.

“They have also experienced several nursing home outbreaks.”

From late February to early March, a nursing home for the elderly in Washington State reported 129 cases of COVID-19, 81 of which were among 81 residents. A total of 35 residents died and eight other nearby nursing homes also experienced epidemics.

A report from the Center for Disease Control, however, found that about half of the residents in the household who tested positive had no symptoms on the day of their test. Other reports have shown that many of the typical symptoms of COVID-19 – such as coughing and high fever – are not the same in older people.

In another report on the Washington state nursing home epidemic in late March, the CDC highlighted several contributing factors, including healthcare workers who worked in long-term care facilities while with COVID-19 symptoms, caregivers who worked in several facilities, lack of personal protective equipment and difficulty identifying cases in the elderly based on symptoms alone.

At that time, however, the outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Center was already underway.

The experience of the North Vancouver nursing home has shown to health care providers how difficult it is to manage epidemics in long-term care facilities, Henry said Wednesday.

“It shows us how difficult it is to catch this virus when you don’t detect an epidemic early,” said Henry.

The measures currently in place in the province, which limit care facility staff to working in one facility, are a direct result of lessons learned from Lynn Valley, she said.

Before health officials knew what was going on, caregivers who worked frequently in more than one facility and who may not have known they had the virus were probably spreading it between nursing homes. long duration.

The increase in resident and staff testing in nursing homes and the tighter controls currently in place “are testament to the learning from the early epidemics,” said Henry.

On Wednesday, Henry reported another death at the Lynn Valley health center in the past day, bringing the total number of residents who died from COVID-19 at the health center to 18. Two residents of the Amica Edgemont Village retirement home also died of the virus on Tuesday.

The Lynn Valley Care Center was one of the two worst outbreaks in the province.

There are approximately 15 residents and 24 staff currently testing positive for the virus, while more than 30 residents and staff have recovered.

The Haro Park health center in Vancouver was also hit hard, with nine deaths reported and more than 40 residents and more than 25 staff tested positive for coronavirus.


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