New details about hoax call at Lynn Valley Care Centre revealed
VANCOUVER -- Staff at Lynn Valley Care Centre are revealing new details about a hoax phone call about COVID-19 now being investigated by police.
The call came in shortly after midnight on March 8, just two days after an outbreak was declared at the centre.
“The call was made by an individual posing as a member of the health authority stating that the centre has been shut down due to COVID-19, and no one is allowed in or out,” said Noori Shahkar, the administrator and environmental safety coordinator for the centre in a statement to CTV News.
The caller named a number of staff specifically and said one of them had tested positive for the virus.
They claimed there were seven or eight more cases as well.
“The caller also said the staff that are currently working can’t leave, the people who were supposed to come work in the morning would not be let in, and officers were on the way,” Shankar said.
It took LVCC several hours to get a hold of health authorities to confirm it was a hoax.
“By that time though, the damage was already done. A lot of staff didn’t show up in the morning, the staff that were already working had to stay longer,” explained Shahkar.
He says that caused the centre to be short staffed for 16 to 24 hours.
“The caller knew who to call. LVCC and the authorities are still investigating where the caller got that information from," Shankar said.
"At this time, there is still no evidence this was carried out by someone affiliated with the care home, currently or in the past."
The centre reported the call to the RCMP right away, and says it was told it was a part of an open RCMP case being led by the serious crimes unit.
“And since it was an open investigation, LVCC was unable to release details to the media until now when the RCMP recently made an arrest in the case.”
North Vancouver RCMP confirmed with CTV News they have arrested someone, but could not confirm what that person's connection wto the care facility was.
Mounties have not indicated if the person is still in custody or if any charges have been approved.
RCMP has yet to comment on what happened.
Lynn Valley Care Centre was the site of the first COVID-19 death in Canada back in March.
It’s been under scrutiny ever since after families raised concerns about the quality of care residents were receiving.
Some relatives of those living in LVCC have called for an investigation into long-term care for seniors.
Six women spoke to CTV, and described staffing shortfalls and care needs not being met – including diapers needing changing and cleaning not being adequate.
It’s unclear if the hoax call played a role in that.
LVCC initially refused requests for an interview on the families’ claims, 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."
Twenty seniors died at the facility before the outbreak was declared over last month.
With files from CTV’s Kendra Mangione and Emad Agahi.