Health Minister says 'improved' services at Lynn Valley Care Centre with COVID-19 outbreak
VANCOUVER -- Days after family members of ill and frail residents complained that a drastic staffing shortage at a care centre with a COVID-19 outbreak had them feeding and cleaning neglected seniors, the health ministry insists it’s fully staffed and resourced.
A resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre became Canada’s first COVID-19 fatality after a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions died. Following the announcement it was under outbreak protocols, family members complained that there were only a handful of staff on site to care for more than 200 seniors with complex health needs who call the centre home.
"Staffing continues to be very steady and very good. The situation has improved," said Health Minister Adrian Dix at a daily coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday.
Family members had called the situation over the weekend "dire," as care workers who were sick stayed home and others were too scared to work. Several women told CTV News they had to feed and tend to basic hygiene needs of their parents as only one or two staff were on hand to care for more than 30 residents.
They were frustrated that the staffing levels Vancouver Coastal Health had promised at a community meeting on Saturday were not being met. On Tuesday, multiple family members reached out to CTV News with serious concerns the facility wasn’t being cleaned adequately, despite improved staffing. They feared it could lead to a series of infections and deaths in seniors' homes like those seen in Washington state.
"A Vancouver Coastal Health Medical Health Officer is personally overseeing the outbreak response at the Lynn Valley Care Home and ensuring proper infection prevention and control procedures are being followed – including cleaning," the health authority said in an email statement to CTV News.
Dix insisted resources are now in place to deal with what he acknowledges had been a lack.
"We’ve added both infection control staff and communication staff to improve communications to the families involved there."
As health officials scrambled to make up for six Lynn Valley Care Centre workers confirmed to have COVID-19, the BC Care Providers Association is urging well-meaning family and friends to avoid visiting care centres – for now.
"We're telling people, even if they're feeling healthy, to wait for a few weeks to enter a care home," he said. "We're trying to err on the side of caution."