Worker from B.C. care home raises troubling allegations about outbreak response
VANCOUVER -- A worker at a care centre that had one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in B.C. is making troubling allegations about what she says was happening inside the facility during the outbreak.
She says Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver became a workplace filled with fear and uncertainty.
“It seems like you said there's a war zone because you don’t know who's your enemy,” the worker said.
CTV News is protecting the worker’s identity over worries she could lose her job for speaking out.
The worker alleges that when the first employee at Lynn Valley tested positive for COVID-19, she learned about it from colleagues. She claims management waited three days to inform everyone.
“It’s not directly from the management. We know only that (from) our co-worker that there is COVID there,” she explained.
LVCC declined an interview, but in a written response said that "all safety measures and protocols on the staff member testing positive, including tracing and contacting all staff and residents that were in contact with the staff member, were conducted by the management team under the supervision and instructions of the Public Health Officer."
The worker also alleges that in at least one instance, a care aide bathed a COVID-positive patient, but was not told the resident was infected until later that day.
LVCC denies that it “kept this information from staff at any time.”
“Any resident that was tested positive, was immediately put under isolation, and no one was allowed in contact with affected residents without being equipped with PPE,” LVCC wrote.
The care aide also spoke of staffing shortages. She says with some employees too scared to come to work and others falling ill, patient care was impacted. For example, she alleges that a COVID-positive dementia patient wandered into another resident’s room.
LVCC admits there was a “short time” it faced staffing shortages.
It also says that “residents with dementia always require a higher level of care. Despite these challenges, we took steps to handle these residents with extra care and caution, which was particularly enforced when professional replacement staff was brought in."
Care aides are currently in a union-organizing drive and, at the request of CTV News, helped facilitate the interview with the worker.
Jennifer Whiteside of the Hospital Employees' Union says care aides have been on the front lines of what has been an unprecedented crisis in our healthcare system.
“Across our long term care system we have seen many concerns raised about staffing levels, about access to appropriate personal protective equipment for workers, about the kind of communication and leadership that’s required at a site to protect against outbreaks,” Whiteside told CTV.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, a resident of LVCC became the first COVID-19 fatality in Canada. Eventually, 20 seniors died at the facility.
The outbreak was declared over last month.