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Two workers at seniors’ homes in Surrey, Langley diagnosed with COVID-19

One is a staff member at Elim Village-The Harrison, at 9025 160th St., and the other is a health worker supporting and Chartwell Independent Living at Langley Gardens

The Fraser Health Authority says two workers at seniors homes in Surrey and Langley have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and one of the locations involved is Elim Village in Fleetwood.

One of the infected people is a staff member who helps with long-term care at Elim Village-The Harrison, at 9025 160th St., and the other is a Fraser Health worker supporting and Chartwell Independent Living at Langley Gardens.

Dr. Martin Lavoie, chief medical health officer for Fraser Health, said Friday the two workers are in self-isolation at home. He said FHA was “made aware of” the Elim Village-related infection on Thursday night.

“Enhanced controls measures have been put in place,” Lavoie said. “Fraser Health is working with the staff at both sites to identify anyone who may have been exposed and we’re taking steps to protect the health of all staff, residents and families.”

The Elim Village retirement facility is owned by Elim Christian Care Society and offers long-term care, assisted living and independent living. Locally speaking, Elim is a massive seniors community, with 250 independent living units consisting of 36 duplexes and 214 apartments among five apartment buildings.

As for assisted living, Elim has 109 one and two-bedroom apartments. Between the Harrison and Harrison West, which offer “full care,” there are 193 private rooms.

On Monday afternoon, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, told the Now-Leader she’s not aware of any more infections at Elim.

“I don’t believe so,” she said. “They did find out about this very early and I said these very aggressive they have now SWAT teams that go into a facility to make sure we have the infection control pieces we need, the personal protective equipment, that everything is done as rapidly as possible and it’s been very effective. We’re not out of the woods by any means, but as far I know, that is stabilized and we’re waiting.

“The challenge with this virus of course is the incubation period can be up to 14 days,” Henry noted, “and we know that there are some people who have been exposed in that facility and it’s a matter of keeping them isolated, monitoring them and waiting to see what’s going to happen over the next few days. So we’re not out of the woods there yet, but I know they have put in a lot of the important measures to try and, if people develop the illness, that it won’t be spread to a next generation.”

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Lavoie said Friday that FHA had “absolutely no evidence to suggest that there is actually a spread of COVID-19 in those facilities.

“That’s why we’re doing all this work and if anybody becomes symptomatic, we isolate them and we test and then we go from there. The good news so far is maybe we just identified the one case and then we’ll see, but at this point there is no transmission that we’ve identified at any of the facilities.”

To prevent further transmission, Fraser Health is ensuring staff working at these two facilities will not be working at any others. Meantime, Fraser Health has implemented the following:

* Staffing levels will be maintained to provide resident care.

* Visitors have been limited to only essential visitors.

* Staff and residents movement in the facility has been restricted.

* Cleaning and infection control measures have been enhanced.

* Residents, clients, families and staff are being notified.

* Twice a day screening of all staff and residents.

Lavoie said given the Lynn Care Centre experience in North Vancouver, where to date 11 residents have died of the virus, “very, very early on we do inform about the fact that there is either a resident or a health care worker that is COVID-19 positive” and “when the person was identified.”

“In these situations, we know that people are at higher risk of severe disease and that is why we are going well beyond what we do normally during influenza season,” he said. “We’re sending a ‘SWAT’ team, we’re putting a large number of measures in place, I mentioned quite a few earlier, and this is to make sure that there’s no more spread, if there’s any, in the community and the SWAT team is there regularly and making sure that all the measures are in place, are implemented, and we check regularly if there’s anybody developing any type of respiratory symptoms and if that’s the case, then we test.

“And so, we repeat and repeat until we know we’re in the clear and that there is no transmission.”

Dr. Victoria Lee, the president and CEO of Fraser Health, said a SWAT team is “an action team, basically, an enhanced action team.

“There’s enhanced measures in place across all of our long-term care facilities and when there’s an event like this, if there’s a positive COVID-19, whether it’s a patient, or a resident, or a staff member, we put in yet an even more enhanced strategy of the SWAT team and it consists of quality safety infection-prevention control, licensing as well as clinical support,” she said. “So it’s really to ensure that we support the facility, residents and family to ensure that it does not spread any further.”

She confirmed Monday that “so far” there had not been “any evidence of further transmission, and the case for other long-term care sites, and assisted living facilities as well as independent living facilities.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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