Mandatory vaccinations coming to B.C.’s acute care system

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Nestled in Victoria’s Rockland neighbourhood, is St. Charles Manor, a long-term care residence.

It’s one of 14 owned and operated Trillium Communities, with more than 700 seniors in their care.

A public health order requires all of British Columbia’s long-term care staff, including those at St. Charles, to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12.

But the industry wants the order to cover everyone in the acute health care system, according to Terry Lake, CEO, BC Care Providers Association.

“Whether you are a healthcare aide, a licensed practical nurse, or registered nurse, you simply can walk across the street and get a job with a hospital in acute care services.”

And the vaccination rate varies among facilities.

At Campbell River’s Discovery Harbour, where three workers tested positive last month, the vaccination rate is 60%.

READ: Island Health declares COVID outbreak at long-term care home in Campbell River

24 people living and working at a Victoria long-term care home tested positive for COVID-19.

A recent survey of B.C.’s private operators found more than 400-employees, including sixty nurses, would quit if required to be vaccinated.

“If we lost ten percent of our nursing and care aide staff that would simply devastate the ability to look after elders in care,” Lake said.

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced an order is coming for all workers in acute care.

“The short answer is yes. This is an important, important measure for all of us in healthcare.  From acute care to long-term care. we know it’s most dangerous, and most lethal in long-term care. And that’s why we started with this group of people. We need to ensure everyone in that setting is immunized.”

Reaction from private operators is positive, such as Kris Coventry, CEO, Trillium Communities.

She said close 95 per cent of the company’s staff are vaccinated.

“I think it’s welcome news that Dr. Bonnie Henry is talking about mandating vaccinations for acute care workers.”

They’ve struggled to retain staff during the pandemic.

“We can’t afford to lose staff. We simply cannot afford to lose staff. Staff are working a lot of overtime shifts,” Coventry said.

Dr. Henry didn’t specify a date of the vaccination order for acute care workers, but indicated one is coming soon.

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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