Vancouver nursing home COVID-19 outbreak has infected 85 people, killing five

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Five residents of a Vancouver nursing home have died from a COVID-19 outbreak that has spread to more than half of residents and more than two dozen employees.
The Little Mountain Place nursing home declared the outbreak on November 22, and the grim update on the spread of the virus was shared with family members and residents during a Town Hall meeting on Zoom on December 7.

Audio from this meeting was shared with NEWS 1130 by a family member of a resident.

Dr Michael Schwandt, of Vancouver Coastal Health, explained the situation at the 116-bed home.

“For some of you it is your home, and for some of you it is the house of your loved one, and you are all very naturally interested in this,” he said. .

“Unfortunately, 59 residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19. So it affected all units in the house and tragically we had five deaths at home among people diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition, 26 staff members were diagnosed. Two of them have recovered at this point and returned to work, while the others are isolating themselves at home, ”he said.

When contacted for comment, Vancouver Coastal Health said it was not releasing specific numbers for active outbreaks, in order to avoid causing unnecessary concern.

Schwandt described the protocols in place, including twice daily symptom and temperature checks for staff and residents.

“Just knowing how elusive this virus can sometimes be, how sometimes people have no symptoms and can be transmissible, or sometimes with very mild symptoms. In fact, every person in the facility has been tested at least once, sometimes multiple times if they develop symptoms, ”he said.

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A letter from CEO Angela Millar indicates that a second round of testing is underway.

“As part of our approach to protecting our community, all staff and residents have been tested at least once since the outbreak was declared, and we are currently conducting another screening test across the country. ‘Establishment of all residents and staff,’ one reads.

Schwandt reassured families that “extraordinary measures” have been put in place to ensure the house has enough workers.

“Staffing can be a challenge when people are diagnosed with COVID-19, certainly when 26 employees are, there is no doubt that it is a major challenge for the facility to provide the care you expect. appropriately, ”he said.

The nature of the new coronavirus means that managing any outbreak is difficult, according to Schwandt.

“It’s not a flu epidemic where everyone infected has obvious symptoms, it’s very difficult. One person can have a mild case, the person in the next room can have a much more serious illness, ”he said.

“The ongoing work at the site is extremely difficult, we won’t back down, but we continue to work hard and it’s safe to say it’s the top priority to control this and limit the spread. that we have seen so far.

A profile of the Little Mountain Nursing Home shows that the average age of residents is 84, with 49% over 85. More than half of the older people living there have dementia and 36% are “totally dependent” on staff for all daily needs. Tasks.

There are active outbreaks in more than 50 long-term care homes across the province. In a healthcare setting, an outbreak is declared as soon as a worker or resident tests positive.

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