Long-term care home workers in the Vancouver Coastal Health region will no longer be allowed to work at multiple facilities, the health authority said Saturday.
The change is one of several directives in a public health order issued by medical health officer Dr. Althea Hayden to protect seniors and limit the spread of COVID-19 in care homes.
Physicians, paramedics and laboratory technicians will be exempt from the restriction.
The order, which will go into effect within three days and will remain in place “until further notice,” also requires facilities to deny access to all visitors except family and spiritual advisors of residents “who are clinically assessed to be at the end of their lives.”
In addition, residents will only be allowed to be transferred between facilities if the transfer is approved by a medical health officer. Facilities will also be required to carry out enhanced cleaning of all rooms and common areas, and enhanced screening of staff.
All group social activities will be cancelled or postponed indefinitely under the order, which was issued through powers granted under B.C.’s Public Health Act.
In addition to the order, VCH announced some new measures to protect seniors living in long-term care facilities.
Those measures include the temporary suspension of inter-facility transfers, except in circumstances of intolerable risk, along with all health authority-operated and funded home and community care adult day programs.
In-facility respite will also be temporarily suspended, except in circumstances of “intolerable risk.”
Admissions to long-term care from acute care will be prioritized over those from the community “where possible,” VCH said.
The public health order and new protection measures come as three long-term care homes in the VCH region have seen outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.
Eight of B.C.’s nine deaths related to the virus are connected to North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre.
Cases have also been identified at West Vancouver’s Hollyburn House, an independent living facility, and Vancouver’s Haro Park Centre.
A fourth long-term care facility, Coquitlam’s Dufferin Care Centre — which is in the Fraser Health region — has also seen one staff member test positive for COVID-19.
B.C. is home to 348 cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday morning.View link »