British Columbia

103 people at Abbotsford care home test positive for COVID-19

Tabor Village, an Abbotsford care home, has been hit by a large COVID-19 outbreak.

Largest long-term care outbreak in Fraser Health since beginning of pandemic

A health-care worker is pictured with a senior at Tabor Home assisted living centre in Abbotsford on Wednesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Tabor Village in Abbotsford, B.C., has been hit by a large COVID-19 outbreak, which Fraser Health says is the largest for a long-term care facility since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to Fraser Health, at least 63 residents and 40 staff in total have had COVID-19. There have been two deaths.

Dan Levitt, executive director at the facility, says the outbreak was discovered after COVID-19 tests were done on people presenting with symptoms. By that time, the virus had spread.

"Our worst nightmares became truth," Levitt said.

He says staffing levels are being maintained to continue to provide care.

"We are anticipating and praying that when we do our testing this Friday the results will come back and see that the efforts of Fraser Health and all the staff ... and the sacrifices of the people who live at Tabor who have stayed in their rooms, that we'll see the results that the numbers are going down," said Levitt.

Additional measures have been implemented, he says, to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Tabor Home announced that 101 people in its community have tested positive for the virus — 59 residents and 42 staff. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

He says all visits have ceased, except for end-of-life residents, movement around the village has been restricted, and there is increased testing and screening and increased cleaning practices.

Enhancement of COVID-19 rapid testing and screening is one of the recommendations in the B.C. Care Providers Association's report published on Thursday.

Terry Lake, the association's CEO, says care home residents, staff, and visitors should receive antigen tests every day, similar to the practice of motion picture production crews.

"Without screening [and] testing for all workers every day, the virus gets into a nursing home from someone who doesn't feel sick. And then once it gets in, of course, it spreads quickly amongst a very, very vulnerable population," Lake said to Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province has received some antigen tests but they aren't being used yet because they are not sensitive enough.

Tabor Village is also working with Fraser Health to provide enhanced education.

"We're trying to do everything we can to keep people's morale up, especially the people who live here who are isolated in their rooms for a long period," said Levitt.

Levitt says the isolation is especially tough for the seniors at a particularly vulnerable time.

"They're in that room for weeks on end, not really [sensing] time passing, not really understanding what is going on."

Though it's a tough challenge, he says the Abbotsford community has been very supportive. On Tuesday, Tabor Village hosted a 24-hour day of prayer.

Stress and anxiety support has also been provided for the facility's staff.

John Wilvers visits his mother Elizabeth Jeppesen, 94, who tested positive for COVID-19 at her residence in the Tabor Home assisted living centre in Abbotsford, British Columbia on Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"They really are putting themselves on the line. There's a huge amount of sacrifice they've already made just choosing the profession of helping older persons," Levitt said.

"These are very special people."

Community responsibility

Levitt says the discussion in B.C. around outbreaks in care homes need to be reframed to include community responsibility.

He wants the public to consider how the choices they make could affect vulnerable seniors — whether that's choosing to wear a mask in public, or inviting someone into your home.

"If we can control the virus in the community, we can control the virus inside the nursing home," he said.

"Our seniors are so important and we should be protecting them."

On Wednesday, 762 new cases of COVID-19 were announced in the province, bringing the total number of active cases to 6,861. Another 10 people died over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 320.

With files from On The Coast, Daybreak Kamloops and Mia Rabson

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