Vancouver Coastal Health announces additional COVID-19 protections for care homes

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Vancouver Coastal Health Saturday announced additional measures to protect residents living in long-term care homes.

The move comes just days after a resident at Vancouver’s Haro Park Centre was diagnosed with COVID-19, and as the number of seniors with the virus at North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre continues to climb.

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A total of 36 residents of the home have now tested positive for COVID-19, and eight have died.

To protect the population living in care homes, and address anticipated pressures on hospitals, VCH is adopting several temporary measures, including:

  • Temporarily suspending inter-facility transfers, except in circumstances of intolerable risk, until further notice and ensure clients’ place on the wait list for transfer is maintained during the suspension of transfers.
  • Prioritizing admissions to long-term care from acute care over those from community where possible.
  • Temporarily suspending all health authority operated/funded home & community Care (HCC) adult day programs and.
  • Temporarily suspending the provision of in-facility respite, except in circumstances of intolerable risk.

Additionally, Vancouver Coastal Health medical health officer Dr. Althea Hayden issued a public order prohibiting long-term care staff and volunteers from working at more than one facility, with the exception of physicians, paramedics and laboratory technicians.

The order also:

  • Requires facilities to deny access to all visitors to the facility, with the limited exception of the immediate family members and spiritual advisor of residents who are clinically assessed to be at the end of their lives.
  • Prohibits resident transfers between health care facilities unless approved by a medical health officer.
  • Requires facilities to carry out enhanced cleaning of facilities and enhanced screening of staff, contractors and visitors, and to adhere to higher standards for notification of cold and flu-like illnesses.
  • Cancels or postpones indefinitely all group social activities.

The order will remain in effect until further notice.

“VCH is taking every precaution necessary to protect the health and safety of its most vulnerable, which includes residents and staff at long-term care homes,” the health authority said in a statement. “We ask the public to also do their part, which includes staying home when you are sick and social distancing – such as staying home and at least two metres away from others – to help reduce virus transmission.”

@JessicaEKerr

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