No coronavirus symptoms at Peace Villa, Northern Health says

Northern Health says no residents at the Peace Villa care home have shown symptoms of COVID-19, after it was learned this week one of its staff members tested positive for the coronavirus disease.

All eyes in B.C. are on long-term and assisted living facilities: There have been 24 outbreaks now province wide, and 235 of the 462 active COVID-19 cases in B.C. are in long-term care or assisted living homes. Thirty people have died.

article continues below

Northern Health officials in Prince George have released little details of the test positive case in Fort St. John. Family reported the news publicly on Thursday, and the case has forced the effective lockdown of the nearby Blueberry River First Nation.

The worker was medevaced to Prince George on Monday, according to family, and is still in serious but stable condition. The worker's last shift was around two weeks ago, though the exact date remains unknown.

"Peace Villa leadership and Northern Health have been communicating to staff regularly, either through regular rounds in Peace Villa several times a day, and through Daily Staff Digest communications, about the importance of self-monitoring and not coming to work if they are feeling unwell," said Angela De Smit, chief operating officer for Northern Health in the northeast.

"The incubation period has passed and no residents have shown any symptoms."

De Smit says enhanced personal protection equipment measures were put in place on March 26.

"Peace Villa staff were directed to wear a mask and eye protection for the duration of their work shift, and to add other PPE (such as gloves) when providing direct care - to protect the residents, and themselves," De Smit said. "Additionally at the same time Peace Villa staff started to increase their monitoring of residents for symptoms."

The doors to Peace Villa were locked March 24 after visits were restricted throughout the Fort St. John Hospital.

"As well more than two weeks ago, Peace Villa also implemented having a greeter at the entrance seven days a week, to screen all visitors for symptoms and/or feeling unwell," De Smit said. "And as all health care facilities in the province have done, we have implemented restrictions limiting to essential visits only, in order to protect our vulnerable residents."

De Smit acknowledged the threshold for declaring an outbreak at a care home is very low – a single identified staff or resident case.

"But - it is important to note that the definition of a staff case is that a staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 and had worked in the facility during their infectious (or communicable) period, potentially exposing other staff or residents," De Smit said. "To date, we have had no cases meeting that criteria, and therefore no facility-based outbreaks in the NH region."

Individuals can choose to report their COVID-19 diagnosis, but the health authority cannot, De Smit said.

"As you may now be aware from social media discussions, media coverage and public concerns have been expressed after a local health care worker at Peace Villa disclosed their own COVID-19 diagnosis," De Smit said. "While individuals may choose to disclose their own personal health information - we as a health authority are bound by strict privacy measures and legislation to protect information about any individual cases, unless there is a public health reason (such as a facility outbreak, or public exposure) to do otherwise. Staff and resident confidentiality, and the trust placed in us to protect it, is integral to the services we provide."

Save Our Northern Seniors has shared the following correspondence from Angela De Smit, Northern Health Chief Operating Officer in the Northeast. It is published in its entirety below:

"Good evening Margaret

"As you may now be aware from social media discussions, media coverage and public concerns have been expressed after a local health care worker at Peace Villa disclosed their own COVID-19 diagnosis. While individuals may choose to disclose their own personal health information - we as a health authority are bound by strict privacy measures and legislation to protect information about any individual cases, unless there is a public health reason (such as a facility outbreak, or public exposure) to do otherwise. Staff and resident confidentiality, and the trust placed in us to protect it, is integral to the services we provide.

"I wanted to reach out to you and assure you that Peace Villa leadership and Northern Health have been communicating to staff regularly, either through regular rounds in Peace Villa several times a day, and through Daily Staff Digest communications, about the importance of self-monitoring and not coming to work if they are feeling unwell. Pat spent time both yesterday and today for 2.5 hours going around and reassuring staff as the incubation period has passed and no residents have shown any symptoms. As the risks of COVID-19 increased across the province, so did the heightened monitoring of residents (and staff) for signs and symptoms. On March 26, NH put into place enhanced personal protection equipment (PPE) requirements in alignment with provincial PPE guidelines; Peace Villa staff were directed to wear a mask and eye protection for the duration of their work shift, and to add other PPE (such as gloves) when providing direct care - to protect the residents, and themselves. Additionally at the same time Peace Villa staff started to increase their monitoring of residents for symptoms.

"As well more than two weeks ago, Peace Villa also implemented having a greeter at the entrance seven days a week, to screen all visitors for symptoms and/or feeling unwell. And as all health care facilities in the province have done, we have implemented restrictions limiting to essential visits only, in order to protect our vulnerable residents.

"Northern Health has in place public health protocols for contact tracing, testing, and monitoring in facilities for potential outbreak concerns. And we have strict and well proven infection control practices in our long-term care homes that we adhere to, if an outbreak is suspected and/or declared. The threshold for declaring an outbreak is very low – including a single identified staff or resident case – in order to respond immediately to any concerns about illness. But - it is important to note that the definition of a staff case is that a staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 and had worked in the facility during their infectious (or communicable) period, potentially exposing other staff or residents. To date, we have had no cases meeting that criteria, and therefore no facility-based outbreaks in the NH region.

"I understand the concern - and that our inability to confirm individual details can be seen as frustrating. But we have a duty to protect privacy in all but exceptional (public health) circumstances. Northern Health will confirm if/when there is a facility-based outbreak, and release the appropriate details – as other health authorities around the province have done.”

This is a developing story.

Do you have information to add? Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Alaska Highway News welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus
Sign Up for our Newsletter!

Popular News

Lowest Gas Prices in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Fort St John, Tumbler Ridge
British Columbia Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com

Community Event Calendar


Find out what's happening in your community and submit your own local events.