Long-term care facilities limiting visitors in B.C.

Long-term care facilities limiting visitors in B.C.

Long-term care facilities such as Sunnybank Centre in Oliver are taking robust steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (File photo)

By Dale Boyd

Long-term care homes in B.C. are implementing additional measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I know that this will be a challenge for some people in the community because you will not be able to see your loved ones as simply and as easily as you have done in the past,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, as she and Minister of Health Adrian Dix addressed the media and the province around 10 a.m. Monday.

There were 48 new test-positive cases in B.C. since Saturday, with 472 total cases province-wide — with Henry noting that 100 cases have recovered and were released from isolation.

“Many of the people who have tested positive have had very mild illness and have recovered for some time,” Henry said.

There are currently 30 cases of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region, 248 cases in the Vancuover Coastal Health region, 150 in Fraser Health, 39 on Vancouver Island and five in the Northern Health region.

Three additional deaths have occurred since Saturday and 33 people are currently hospitalized with 14 of those in the Intensive Care Unit.

A total of six long-term care facilities have been infected by COVID-19 mostly located in the Lower Mainland, none of which are in the Interior Health Region.

Long-term care workers are now getting screened as they come in to work. Henry said many care homes are going “out of their way” to digitally connect residents with their family.

There have been no reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in Interior Health long-term care homes as of Monday.

“Interior Health has no COVID-19 outbreaks in our long-term care homes. COVID-19 testing is currently included in all testing done for respiratory illness in long-term care facilities,” an Interior Health news release on March 21 states.

Interior Health is enacting the changes to long-term care and community programs and services “to protect seniors and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and address potential pressures on the acute care system.”

Along with all other B.C. regional health authorities, Interior Health is restricting visitors in long-term care to essential visits only. Essential visits include compassionate visits for end-of-life care and for families who routinely visit to provide assistance with feeding or mobility.

The health authority is suspending transfers of individuals from one care home to another, except in circumstances of intolerable risk, and temporarily suspending all adult day programs and in-facility respite care, except in circumstances of intolerable risk and for those who require end-of-life care.

“These changes will enable health care staff to focus on increased surveillance and infection prevention protocols and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our vulnerable seniors,” the statement reads.