Deadliest care home in B.C. gets 'pandemic response director'
LANGLEY, B.C. -- A day after Langley Lodge reported that a total of 22 of its residents had died during its second COVID-19 outbreak, making it the deadliest long-term care home in the province during the pandemic, the regional health authority announced it was sending more resources and oversight.
The new point person: a “Pandemic Response Director” from Fraser Health.
“(We’re talking about) somebody onsite, on the ground to help them, to guide their response,” Fraser Health chief medical officer Dr. Martin Lavoie told CTV News Vancouver.
“This is obviously a challenging outbreak to get under control,” Lavoie said.
Jo-Anne Morris knows that all too well.
She’s been living an emotional roller coaster for the last three months, with her 89-year-old mother, Peggy Mason, living on the fourth floor at Langley Lodge and now restricted to her room.
Mason’s mother has dementia, and Morris said she doesn’t understand everything that’s going on.
“She asked if this is going to kill her,” Morris said, wiping back tears on Thursday. “If she’s dying. If she’s sitting in her room waiting to die.”
Morris said her mother was tested for COVID-19, and others indicated all the residents of the lodge would be tested on Thursday.
In addition to the new director, Fraser Health also said it was sending more nurses, infection control specialists, and housekeepers.
And Lavoie said staff will also begin using a machine uses ultraviolet light to kill the virus in rooms and common areas.
“It’s not just about the numbers,” he said, referencing the 22 people who have died. “It’s the fact that it’s been lasting for quite a while.”
The second outbreak began in late April, and how it was introduced to the care home remains under investigation, though it appears to have been brought in by a worker.
And while Morris wonders why it took this long for Fraser Health to up its efforts to this extent, she said she is also grateful.
“Hallelujah. It’s about time. Thank God,” Morris said.
The CEO of Langley Care Society, the organization that runs the lodge, told CTV News that she welcomed the additional resources and expertise.
“It is essential that we seek out and access every resource that is available to us,” Debra Hauptman wrote in statement.
“Our progress to date has been steady and we remain steadfastly focused on getting across the finish line,” Hauptman wrote.
In between phone calls and window waves to her mother, Morris has become a de facto representative for Langley Lodge families, and wants others that are afraid to speak up to reach out.
And while Morris praised the nursing staff at length, as she has in the past, she also called for better communication and transparency.
“Let’s support each other,” Morris said. “Strength in numbers.”
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Michele Brunoro