British Columbia long-term care home report reveals confusion, mixed messaging

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VANCOUVER — A third-party report examining how the British Columbia government responded to COVID-19 in long-term care homes during the first wave of the pandemic reveals confusion over policies and infection prevention.

The report, by Ernst & Young, says specific policy orders from the provincial health officer were interpreted differently by health authorities and there were gaps in infection prevention and control as well as emergency preparedness.

It also highlighted a lack of consistent provincial policy on how health authorities and facility operators handled residents who tested positive for COVID-19.

Ernst & Young did praise the government for its decision to create a health emergency command centre as well as restricting staff from working at multiple long-term care facilities, which it says contributed to stopping the spread of COVID-19 infections in care homes.

But it added that those restrictions also highlighted staffing shortages and other underlying issues.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said last week that his government has implemented all the recommendations in the report and its assessment of the province's actions was "overwhelmingly favourable."

The report was completed last fall and stakeholders and the Opposition Liberals have questioned why it was not released sooner.

More than 650 of B.C.'s over 1,100 deaths from COVID-19 have been in long-term care facilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press