British Columbia

B.C. long-term care homes get extra help to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks

The Fraser Health Authority appointed a pandemic response director on Thursday at Langley Lodge, where more than 20 people have died from the virus in recent weeks.

Fraser Health assisting homes in Port Coquitlam, Langley

Over 20 people at Langley Lodge have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Specialized health teams have been sent to fight COVID-19 outbreaks at two Metro Vancouver long-term care homes.

The Fraser Health Authority appointed a pandemic response director on Thursday at Langley Lodge, where more than 20 people have died from the virus in recent weeks.

It also sent extra staff to Nicola Lodge in Port Coquitlam after one resident tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19, said Dr. Martin Lavoie, Fraser Health's chief medical health officer. The resident was placed in isolation at the lodge, he said.

"Over the past several weeks, we've been supporting and offering guidance to Langley Lodge in different ways," Lavoie said at a news conference.

"Today, we're taking further action and we have appointed our own director of pandemic response to provide oversight of the COVID-19 response at Langley Lodge and also to further support the facility leadership and staff."

Dr. Martin Lavoie, Fraser Health's chief medical health officer, said the COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge has been difficult to control. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The lodge website says it is a not-for-profit registered charity run by the Langley Care Society.

It says the lodge in Langley provides long-term care for adults who can no longer live safely or independently at home because of their health-care needs. The lodge includes 121 funded spaces and 14 private pay spaces.

An official at the lodge referred questions about the COVID-19 outbreak to Fraser Health on Thursday.

'Enough is enough'

At Langley Lodge, 22 people have died from COVID-19, the highest death toll of any long-term care home in B.C.

Some family members are losing confidence the health authority can keep the virus under control.

"I would like to see this eradicated. Like, this is enough," Serena Gregg said.

Her 82-year-old husband, John Gregg, lives inside. He tested positive two weeks ago, she said, but seems to be getting better.

John Gregg is an 82-year-old, terminally ill resident of Langley Lodge. His wife, Serena Gregg, is worried about not seeing him again. (Serena Gregg)

She said her husband is terminally ill with Lewy body dementia and with visits still suspended she's afraid he might die before she can see him again. 

Health minister offers support

At a Thursday afternoon news conference with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix said he has spoken with the lodge's director, Debra Hauptman, who he said has "worked her guts out."

Health Minister Adrian Dix offered praise for the leadership and staff of Langley Lodge Thursday. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

"The people there are working hard," Dix said. "They're fundamentally committed to the people that they serve."

He said the lodge measures up as an "excellent" care home in independent reports.

He said the severity of the outbreak at the lodge shows how vigilant people need to be when it comes to containing COVID-19 and why public health guidance and restrictions must be followed.

More nurses, specialists

Lavoie said the COVID-19 outbreak at the lodge has been difficult to control.

"It is our hope that these additional measures will support the site in controlling this complex outbreak," he said. "We're taking all the necessary steps to minimize the exposure to and transmission of COVID-19."

Lavoie said extra nurses and staff are being called in, along with infection control specialists who will use a specialized ultraviolet germ sterilization machine.

As of Thursday, 93 people have died from COVID-19 in long-term care facilities in the province. A total of 164 people have died from the virus.

With files form Jon Hernandez and Liam Britten