Lynn Valley care-home nurse loses job after allegedly failing to wear PPE properly around COVID-19 patients
College suspends Kenneth Chan's licence to work as a nurse in B.C.
A former nurse who worked at the Lynn Valley Care Centre at the peak of its devastating coronavirus outbreak has lost his job over allegations he didn't wear his personal protective equipment (PPE) properly around residents with COVID-19.
Kenneth Chan was accused of failing to "properly don and doff" PPE when working with contagious patients several times in March and once in April, according to the B.C. College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP).
PPE includes gowns, masks, gloves, eye protection, booties and face shields. Used properly, it is a key barrier to prevent exposure and the spread of an illness.
The college suspended Chan's licence to work as nurse in B.C. on June 19. Its investigation hasn't finished, but a notice said the suspension is necessary in the meantime "in order to protect the public."
"Our first priority is always public safety," said BCCNP registrar and CEO Cynthia Johansen.
"The devastating impact that COVID-19 can have in congregate living facilities such as long-term care homes means the strongest possible infection control precautions should and must be taken by staff.
"Nurses are expected to be leaders in this area and to set an example for other staff, visitors and clients."
The Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, B.C., was the first such facility in B.C. to report a COVID-19 infection on March 6, marking a turning point in a crisis that has proven particularly lethal to the elderly.
The province said 76 people, including 52 residents and 26 staff, contracted the coronavirus at the centre before the outbreak was declared over on May 7. Twenty residents died, including a man in his 80s who was Canada's first death related to the pandemic.
Residents' family members described "mayhem" as officials tried to manage the virus in March and April, facing understaffing issues and miscommunication.
Anybody going into a room marked for a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 had to put on a new face mask, gown, gloves and booties before entering. They would have to take it all off before going into another room.
The college said the centre "removed" Chan from the workplace after learning of the alleged incidents. It did not say when that removal happened.
No further details are available on the accusations against Chan. The college declined to release further information about specifics of the allegations or around any consequences created for patients, citing the ongoing investigation.
Vancouver Coastal Health, which has direct oversight of the provincially funded care home, declined comment on the case. A spokesperson deferred to the college.
Asked about the suspension on Tuesday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she was unaware of the case.
She did, however, say professionals working in long-term care homes might not have been fully familiar with strict PPE protocols brought in as a result of the pandemic. Instead, she said they were likely trained for a regular influenza season - which is not the same as what's required for COVID-19.
"It was a learning experience," Henry said.
The college said Chan is not co-operating with the investigation. A spokesperson said, to date, the college hasn't "had any other cases related to PPE violations."
Without his licence from the college, Chan cannot work as a nurse in British Columbia.
CBC News has reached out to the Lynn Valley Care Centre for comment.
With files from Jason Proctor