A local family is still in “shock” having learned just a few days ago that their parents’ care home in Maple Ridge is the vortex of a local COVID-19 outbreak.
On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed that Willow Manor on 224th Street was then, the latest senior care facility in the province to report an outbreak. Since then, it’s been revealed that 12 residents and three staff are being treated for the coronavirus, while one resident’s death has been attributed to COVID.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with the loved ones of this resident, and I know this is difficult for all families to hear,” general manager Niki Tupper shared with the families.
While believed sincere and heartfelt, the condolences do little to quelll fears among the families on the outside who are worried for their aging loved ones on the inside. That from one family member, who feared identifying his/herself might mean being cut off from the centre’s daily communication updates.
“I haven’t seen my parents since early March because of the lockdown,” the person shared, noting residents have been in quarantine for almost a month and a half, with only staff going in and out.
“Same staff. No one else allowed in. Easy to figure out it came from staff,” the person said, sharing fears.
“We were told of only one resident on that floor until the memo of the [April] 21st,” said the relative with two family members in the 33-bed long-term care unit.
Early indications from Chartwell described it as a “mild case,” the writer shared, dreading the next memo from the centre might share higher numbers.. “I’ve never heard of COVID-19 defined as mild or in any vein like that. You can be feeling pretty good and then needing a ventilator, fighting to live.”
Now it’s what the family are calling a “wait and see,” for the other residents and their families.
“We appreciate that you are missing your loved ones with the visiting restrictions,” Tupper said in her letter Tuesday to family. “Although not ideal, these restrictions, along with our enhanced screening precautions and use of personal protective equipment are keeping everyone safer.”
She confirmed news of the first case of COVID in the long-term care unit was shared Saturday, April 18, and a few days later she was sharing new, much higher numbers
Tupper explained that all residents are remaining in their own rooms, and common areas closed. Meals are being delivered to residents in their rooms, and daily health checks are being conducted.
“Should a resident become symptomatic, or exhibit atypical symptoms, they will be tested,” Tupper said, asking families to notify the centre immediately if loved-ones in care contact them saying they’re unwell.
Likewise, staff are also being screened – including temperature checks – before and after each shift.
And as for visiting, it’s restricted to those coming in for “end of life” situations only.
“As you can imagine our staff are working very hard to ensure the health and safety of your loved ones,” Tupper said, offering assurances that family will be informed of any changes to their condition.
Offering thanks for patience and support shown to the staff in what she calls “challenging” times, the general manager concluded: “We know you are concerned for your loved one and how hard it is to be separated at a time like this. Please know how hard our staff are working to be there for your loved ones with not just care, but also compassion, support, and kindness knowing how especially hard it is for them to be missing you as well.”
Outbreaks over at other homes
On Wednesday, Fraser Health declared that COVID-19 outbreaks had ended at five long-term care and assisted-living facilities in the region, noting there wer no longer any COVID-19 cases at two facility in White Rock, on in Delta, another in Surrey, and one in Port Coquitlam.
Meanwhile, other individual cases had been reported that are connected to care homes in Surrey, Chilliwack, and Burnaby – one involving a long-term care resident and two being staff.
With each outbreak, a Fraser Health SWAT team visits the site and enhanced control measures are put in place, said Fraser Health communications officer Dixon Tam. In addition to assisting the centre, the team includes dedicated people to address quality, answer questions from staff, residents, and family, and provide active checks of symptoms with staff and residents.
“Fraser Health has implemented comprehensive strategies to prevent and respond to COVID-19 in long-term care, assisted-living, and independent living facilities,” Tam said.
In addition, Fraser Health has also deployed more than 200 people as part of their rapid action teams, which include clinical nurse educators, infection prevention, and control experts, screeners, and patient care quality officers supporting with communication to families and assessing symptoms at the site.
Through these teams, sites are also connected with emergency supplies and additional personnel if needed.
Tam said that since the public health emergency was declared, Fraser Health has seen limited to no transmission of COVID-19 in facilities that have had outbreaks.
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