Tabor Home in Abbotsford now has a total of 101 staff and residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The latest update, sent out to families on Monday afternoon (Nov. 16), indicates that 42 staff members and 59 residents – exactly half of the 118 people who reside there – have now tested positive.
Fraser Health said on Tuesday afternoon that two residents have died.
The long-term-care facility is owned and operated by Tabor Village, whose executive director is Dan Levitt.
“Many staff who tested positive for the virus were in shock as they experienced no symptoms,” Levitt said in the update.
“It is our belief that many of these positive cases are individuals who already had the virus within them, but didn’t display symptoms or show on their test until later.”
He said the outbreak is hitting everyone hard.
“This is a sad reality for many and we know and feel the weight of this deeply, just as we know you do as well,” Levitt said in his update.
Levitt told The Abbotsford News that Tabor Home is maintaining a “robust staffing roster” with full-time, part-time and casual workers.
“An essential services staff plan was implemented at the beginning of the outbreak to outsource additional health-care workers from Fraser Health, staffing agencies and post-secondary institutions’ health-care programs,” he said.
“Most importantly, Tabor Village is blessed with health-care workers who are going out of their way to be in the middle of the outbreak to support their colleagues, to ensure the work gets done, that safety measures are in place and that care from the heart continues.”
A Fraser Health spokesperson said the agency is continuing to work with Tabor Home during the outbreak to “enlist new health-care graduates and reach out to community partners for staffing support that adheres to the single-site-order guidance.”
But two care aides who contacted The Abbotsford News said staffing levels are strained.
One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said that each of the four units in Tabor Home is currently under-staffed.
She said Fraser Health has deployed some workers who previously were only caring for residents who had tested negative but could move from home to home. But, as of Monday night, she said those workers are now able to care for COVID-positive residents and must work only at Tabor Home.
But the woman said there is still a shortage of care aides.
For example, she said where there would normally be four care aides to a unit, there are currently two or three. And many of those are working double shifts.
She said she is currently working 11 days straight and doing a 16-hour shift every other day. Another care aide just finished working 12 days in a row.
“We are getting very burned out,” she said. “We need a lot of help … Things are not as they (management) are saying.”
Another staff member, who also asked to remain anonymous, said Tabor Home was short-staffed even before COVID and it’s even worse now.
“The residents aren’t receiving proper care because of this. The staff are burnt out and falling ill,” she said.
The worker also said she has concerns that the first positive case was identified on Monday, Nov. 2, but she said it wasn’t until four days later that further testing was conducted and COVID procedures were intensified.
She said she is also concerned that staff are asked to change their face masks only twice per shift, causing them to be “soaking wet all day from perspiration.”
The daughter of a resident in the home said she and others are also concerned about staffing levels.
“My concern is that I had been told on previous occasions they were short-staffed before the pandemic and, now with half of the residents sick with COVID and so many staff members sick as well, we are concerned about the care our family members are receiving,” she said.
The woman said they cannot currently connect with their loved ones through FaceTime or window visits, and are unable to directly see how their family members are doing.
Levitt said Tabor Village has modified its “life enhancement program” that provides programs and services for residents, and staff are in regular contact with families through daily letters and phone calls.
“We recognize that an outbreak can be very worrisome for residents, staff and families. Our focus is on ensuring staff safety and safe compassionate care for older persons living at Tabor Home,” he said.
The Tabor Village website has a section where family and friends are encouraged to send letters and photos.
Tabor Village is also accepting donations online to its COVID-19 emergency relief fund to support increased safety measures, resident wellness and recreation programs, additional equipment needs, and staff encouragement programs.
The outbreak was first reported publicly on Friday, Nov. 6, when Fraser Health reported that four staff and two residents had tested positive. But numbers released later that day from Tabor Village indicated it was seven staff and two residents.
Among the measures that the Fraser Health spokesperson said are put in place when an outbreak occurs are: deploying a rapid-response team, providing on-site staff to screen all care-home staff, providing ongoing staff education, and prioritizing access to face masks, eye protection and gowns and additional personnel from their relief pool.