Holy Family Covid-19 cases rise to 29 as management admits challenges

    Vancouver – Holy Family Hospital’s 126-bed long term care facility is facing a health crisis with Covid-19 infections among 6 staff members and 23 seniors.

    One of the challenges is that some rooms have four people to a room and the facility has tried to separate the patients within the rooms. Residents and staff are being tested on an ongoing basis.

    “There are two main programs, separated on two floors, at the Holy Family campus: a 126-bed long-term care facility, as well as a 65-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit. Thus far, there are no COVID-19 cases in rehab.” the hospital said in a statement.

    The outbreak was declared on June 9 with one staff member and five residents infected.

    During a town hall meeting with people with families in the LTC facility, management faced numerous questions from participants.

    “The day after the outbreak was declared the Infection Prevention and Control Team, along with the Public Health Team, went into the facility and did mass testing for all the residents. The purpose of that mass testing was to cast a very broad net to identify residents who may have infections.” officials said.

    “During that first day, we were unable to collect testing on some residents because of residents’ awareness of what was happening and the difficulty in explaining to some residents how the testing would be done.”

    “So on subsequent days our team went back to the facility to complete testing. There was still one resident who refused testing.”

    “In terms of whether residents will be tested again, the way we’ve been approaching this is based on symptoms. So when residents develop symptoms, no matter how mild the symptoms may be, we are repeating testing and that is why we’re identifying additional cases.”

    “And if we are fortunate enough to catch it very early, that first case or first two or three cases will sometimes be transferred out of that facility and brought into acute care for specialised care.

    “This is what we did with this particular case, when we had our very first. But once it became evident that there was spread throughout the facility, the utility of transferring everyone out has gone down,” families were told.

    But the moving of people through corridors and into hospitals became more challenging and risky.

    “The transfer of residents from long term care to acute care is always an individual discussion. The physicians and Dr. Ken Tekano in long term care started a program early in March to have serious illness conversations because we know that individuals will have different goals of care and wishes in terms of being transferred to hospitals and leaving their homes.”

    “So individual assessment in terms of transfers are discussed. For those who have a more serious illness such as pneumonia, the outcome in the elderly that we know of is unfortunately worse than those who have less comorbidities or who are younger,” management said.

    On the question of how the virus got into the facility, management is unable to provide a definitive answer.

    “The virus gets into the facility one way or another from people coming into the facility and there is still a degree of community transmission of COVID. It is very low which keeps the risk low, and given the number of long term care homes we have in Vancouver, on a daily basis, people are doing a fantastic job.

    “But every now and then someone can make a mistake, we can never know exactly where that was, but the best thing we can do at this point is to make sure we put those measures in place to take care of it.

    “So this is unfortunate, but I will say that these things do happen and we can’t eliminate COVID, which is why it is considered a pandemic, so we just have to manage the best we can and always try to improve our safety protocols so they are the best they can be.”

    More acute care staff are in to help the facility.

    “We absolutely have brought in additional staff to help our Holy Family staff care for your family members. We asked our acute care staff for their assistance and they stepped up and we have a number of volunteers who have moved to Holy Family in order to help. We’re also in regular communication with Holy Family leadership and Human Resources to ensure that we have staff for as long as they’re needed.”