No COVID-19 cases at any Vancouver Island extended care facility

No COVID-19 cases at any Vancouver Island extended care facility
WatchThere are thousands of people living in Vancouver Island's 146-long term care or assisted living facilities. While COVID-19 is responsible for the death of dozens of people in similar facilities in the Lower Mainland, it's a much different picture on Vancouver Island. Mary Griffin tells us why.

Aberdeen Hospital is home to 100 patients but not a single resident has come down with COVID-19.

And the facility is not alone. Despite outbreaks in extended care homes across North America, assisted living/long-term care facilities on Vancouver Island have remained coronavirus free.

Mark Blandford, the executive director of Island Health’s long-term care and assisted living facilities, said there are a number of reasons for keeping the facilities safe.

“Our community’s diligence is reason one,” Blandford said.

He also attributes the success of keeping the virus from the Island’s facilities to early intervention.

“Before the first cases were showing on the Lower Mainland, we started to restrict visiting in a very gentle way. By having what we call, ‘front door ambassadors’ put in place in all of our facilities,” Blandford said.

READ MORE:  B.C. reports 7 new cases of COVID-19, lowest number since March 9

It’s a different story on the Lower Mainland.

The first outbreak of the virus began at North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Home on March 6.  After two months and 20 deaths, the virus is finally under control there.

There are 146 long-term and assisted living facilities within Island Health. Ninety-four of the facilities are run by Island Health or funded by Island Health, totalling approximately 6,400 beds.  Fifty-two facilities are privately operated.

Not a single confirmed case of COVID-19 is in any of those 146 facilities.

Jennifer Whiteside, the secretary-business manager for the Hospital Employees’ Union, which represents 50,000 members working for public, non-profit and private employers, including on Vancouver Islan, said many factors play into the success of keeping the coronavirus at bay on the Island.

“It’s extraordinarily fortunate and I think there is no question there is an element of luck here as well. It’s a combination of many factors. Early decisive action by our health minister, by our provincial health officer, to take strong measures to restrict movement,” Whiteside said.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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