We applaud the news this week that seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie will review what happened during COVID-19 outbreaks in B.C.’s long-term care homes.
Notably, the first confirmed death in Canada from COVID-19 happened here on the North Shore, at the Lynn Valley Care Centre. Since then, there have been more than a thousand deaths in B.C. More than 60 per cent of those have been seniors in care.
While the outbreaks raged, families of elderly residents in care homes have in too many cases found themselves shut out of vital information. Early on, in the case of Lynn Valley Care Centre, official information being handed out by health authorities was clearly divorced from reality observed by those inside the care home. That didn’t bolster confidence that the truth about outbreaks – how they started and spread and what needed to happen to contain them – would be willingly divulged.
There was some progress – including restricting workers to a single care home site. Yet other measures like rapid testing of staff have clearly lagged.
A proper review should tell us why the hard lessons learned early in Lynn Valley didn’t prevent more outbreaks.
As seniors advocate, Mackenzie has the power to force health authorities and care homes to share information.
In her previous investigations into long-term care, Mackenzie has proven herself dogged and unflinching in telling both the public and the government what is often uncomfortable to hear. The families who never got a chance to be with their loved ones and hold their hands during their final frightening days certainly deserve to know.
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