Hoax call 'deeply alarmed' staff, 'kicked us while we were down,' Metro Vancouver care home says
VANCOUVER -- July 22 update: We're learning more about the content of the hoax call
A Metro Vancouver care home among the hardest hit by COVID-19 says it was dealing with another difficulty in the pandemic's early days.
In an open letter released Tuesday, North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre said the extreme challenges posed by novel coronavirus were heightened when a hoax call was made to staff in the early hours of March 8.
The call appeared to be from health authorities, and while LVCC did not say what the caller said, the message "deeply alarmed our staff."
The centre says the information provided by that caller prompted immediate action, but it didn't specify what those actions were.
The centre said by the time it learned the call was a hoax, "unfortunately a great deal of harm had already been done to our capacity to provide the standard of care for which LVCC has come to be known."
Whatever was said on the call diverted time and resources away from the centre's capacity to work, it said.
LVCC said the incidents led to needless fear among residents and their families. Additionally, staff who knew little about the novel coronavirus at the time were reluctant to come to work.
"That call kicked us while we were down, really down," the centre's statement said.
The next day, the centre learned that the call was a hoax, it said. The call was used as evidence in an ongoing RCMP investigation, according to the LVCC.
Mounties in North Vancouver have made an arrest in the case, the centre said. The RCMP has yet to confirm the arrest or comment on the case.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, a resident of the centre was the first fatality in Canada.
Twenty seniors died at the facility before the outbreak was declared over last month.
The Lynn Valley Care Centre has been the subject of concerns raised by family members who spoke to CTV News earlier this month.
Some relatives of those living in LVCC have called for an investigation into long-term care for seniors, and allege a lack of care.
Six women spoke to CTV, and described staffing shortfalls and care needs not being met – including diapers needing changing and cleaning not being adequate.
At the time, LVCC refused requests for an interview, but said in a written response, in part: "Like other care facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged our facility, spreading at an alarming rate, which added to our challenges of getting ahead of the outbreak… Our team along with the (Vancouver Coastal Health) Public Health officers worked closely and did everything possible to stop the spread and providing care for our residents."