A nurse who allegedly avoided screening and later transmitted COVID-19 in a B.C. long-term care home where 26 people died of the disease is “no longer employed” at the facility, health officials say.
The Fraser Health Authority held a news conference on Thursday in response to a post-outbreak internal report, prepared by Langley Lodge, that had been leaked to Glacier Media.
The outbreak was reported on April 29 and declared to be over July 3. It was the second outbreak at the facility and remains the deadliest at a B.C. long-term care home.
Global News has not independently reviewed the report.
But Fraser Health vice-president Norm Peters told reporters that the document, as reported in the local media, is “generally reflective of Langley Lodge’s experience and the feedback that they provided to us during the outbreak.”
Global News has requested comment from Langley Lodge about whether the nurse was terminated.
Officials are focusing on an educational, rather than punitive, response to areas where protocols were not being followed, Fraser Health said. But Peters said he expects all staff to adhere to policies, which include twice daily screening.
“There is a degree of trust that we put into our employees to ensure that they follow all of the rules and procedures associated with the screening requirements,” he said. “A lot of time and effort is spent not only by Fraser Health, but operators to educate staff around the importance of screening.
“Can I say that a staff person will never try to evade it? No, but we will look to staff to also be responsible for their own actions.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also responded to the case on Thursday.
“Nobody goes into work saying oh, I’m going to give COIVD to everybody in this care home I work in,” said Henry.
“There’s a whole lot of things we do to ourselves, we think, ‘Oh, we’re so short staffed I can’t possibly stay away, my colleagues need me, the people I care for need me and this is just a little cold.”
As in other industries, health care workers face social or financial pressure to work when they feel unwell, she said. Henry pointed to the province’s single-site order, which guarantees a minimum pay for care home workers, as a step to prevent similar situations in the future.
Other areas of concern in the report, according to the Glacier article, included a May 12 audit in which the care home failed 18 of 59 items on an infection control list, including one incident in which linen and trash carts were stored in the same utility closet.
The report also cited confusion and a lack of education around proper personal protective equipment and a “critical” staff crunch brought on by the provincial order limiting health-care employees to work at only one facility.
Langley Lodge CEO Debra Hauptman, who wrote the report, directed media requests for an interview to a statement on the facility’s website, which said the report was meant to create a record of the “historical” exposure.
“The intent of the report was not to shift blame or responsibility to other partners for events that unfolded during our outbreak,” reads the statement.
“It does highlight discovery of unanticipated impacts of COVID-19 in a long-term care home, and those discoveries led to responsive actions in a massive, coordinated effort to contain the spread of the virus.”
Fraser Health officials acknowledged staffing shortages at the facility, but said they deployed additional workers, as they would for any facility, when the outbreak was declared.
“We assumed the operations of two units completely and staffed them accordingly so that Langley Lodge staff can continue to maintain care in the outbreak units,” Peters said.
“We will continue to do that for every outbreak to ensure the care needs continue to be met. And to this date. We have maintained our direct care levels at or near what’s required in all facilities.”