What happened: Of the 725 cases of COVID-19 in B.C., 135, or 18.6%, are at seniors' care facilities.
Why this matters: Seniors, and those with underlying health conditions, are the most vulnerable and prone to die from the global pandemic, with some estimates putting the death toll at nearly 15% for those infected.
No new seniors' care facilities in B.C. have recorded any cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours but B.C.'s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry on March 26 said that there have been new infections in homes previously identified as having outbreaks.
North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre remains the seniors' home with the largest cluster of cases in the province: 70 cases, including 46 residents and 24 employees. That is up by seven new cases overnight. Four of the new cases are residents while the others were healthcare workers.
Haro Park Centre, in Vancouver's West End, is the second large cluster, with 58 infections involving 30 residents and 28 workers. That count is up by three cases, compared with yesterday. The new cases include two residents and one worker.
Lynn Valley Care Centre's 11 deaths include all of the deaths that have taken place at care centres.
Seven other seniors' homes have had outbreaks.
That includes two cases – one resident and one worker – at West Vancouver's Hollyburn House.
The other six homes all have one case, and they are:
•Broadway Pentacostal Lodge;
•Vancouver's German Canadian Care Home;
•Vancouver's Little Mountain Place;
•Delta's Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre;
•Coquitlam's Dufferin Care Centre; and
•White Rock's Evergreen Heights Assisted LIving.
Henry reiterated on March 26 that she has made an order under B.C.'s Public Health Act to require health workers at all public and private facilities to work at one facility only for the duration of the pandemic.
"This includes long-term care, assisted living, extended and acute care," she said. "This is one of the key things that we've talked about as being a risk, particularly for our more vulnerable elders and seniors who are in care homes or assisted living, where we've had a patchwork system of care providers, health-care workers of various different kinds who move between facilities. And that is one of the things that has facilitated movement and outbreaks in a number of different facilities unfortunately."
She said that the order is important to support the employees so they are able to work and provide needed care as well as to decrease the amount of viral transmission.
Yesterday (March 25), Business in Vancouver asked Henry what was taking so long in terms of executing her order.
She answered that the system was "complex," given the large number of workers.
"What we will do over the coming days is have a centralized assignment of people so that people work at one facility only," she said on March 25.
"What is the challenge is, over the last 20 years, there have been contracts and subcontracts for different types of workers, particularly in long-term care – so whether it is nurses, or care aides or the food-service people, the cleaning in those facilities."
There are many different types of contracts, she explained. There are also many different kinds of care homes, some of which are owned by health authorities, some private and some hybrid.
"The types of subcontracts they have are myriad and complex," she said. "So it's not as simple as saying, 'OK, everybody. You just need to go to one facility only,' because that would have left other facilities potentially with an extreme shortage."
Medical health officers in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health have put specific orders on each of the care homes that have been identified as having outbreaks of the coronavirus, so no staff at those homes are currently working at other facilities, she said.
"Now we need to do that on a broader scale," she said. "As you can imagine, with some unionized, some non-unionized, the wage scales are different as well. We're coming out with a provincial central strategy that provides a consistent approach to all facilities across the province focusing on the Lower Mainland right now. That has been a very complex program. But it is starting. The outbreak facilities themselves are first, and have started already but we will be moving for all facilities within the coming days."