The COVID-19 outbreak at Tabor Home in Abbotsford has now resulted in a total of 124 cases and 16 deaths.
Fraser Health confirmed Monday evening (Nov. 23) that 74 residents – 63 per cent of the facility’s occupancy of 118 – and 50 staff have tested positive since the outbreak began Nov. 4.
Tabor Home is a long-term-care facility owned and operated by Tabor Village.
In an e-newsletter sent to family and friends Monday evening, Tabor Village executive director Dan Levitt said the home currently has 67 active cases – 44 residents and 23 staff.
A follow-up newsletter from Levitt on Tuesday afternoon had slightly different total case numbers than Fraser Health, saying there were 67 residents and 55 staff who have tested positive, for a total of 122 cases.
The latest updated indicated that there have now been 16 deaths related to the virus, including five on Monday, “in comparison to last year when we lost five people in the span of the entire month of November.”
“When these deeply valued and beloved older persons pass away, it is a tragedy and one that breaks all our hearts as we come to know and love these Tabor family members,” Levitt wrote.
He said the facility is continuing to work with Fraser Health, including weekly testing of all staff and residents.
Levitt said care aides who have recovered are now back at work. He said the remaining gaps are being covered by overtime shifts, additional staff from Fraser Health, staff from post-secondary health-care programs, and hiring through staff agencies.
Family members of two residents told The Abbotsford News on Tuesday morning that they are concerned not only about the extent of the outbreak, but what they say is a “lack of communication” from management.
In the latest email, Levitt indicated that family will receive a phone call once a week “and more frequently as staffing resources permit.”
“We realize the restricted communication between yourself and your loved ones has been hard. We hope and trust these weekly phone calls from staff will help bring a little more peace in your heart and mind as we all continue to work together in getting back to being outbreak-free,” Levitt wrote.
Fiona Whittington-Walsh, whose mother-in-law is among the Tabor Home residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, said a weekly call and a couple of emails a week is not good enough.
Families have been prohibited from window visits, and to be left for days with no knowledge about their loves ones’ well-being is distressing. She said it is also overwhelming for the residents, who might not fully comprehend what is happening and why they can’t see their families.
“We’re really frustrated with the lack of transparency. In the very least, Fraser Health should have had a communications point person that dealt directly with families every day, letting us know what’s happening,” Whittington-Walsh said.
She said she is concerned that the outbreak wasn’t contained at the outset, and believes that a “lack of leadership” is to blame. She said Levitt and the Fraser Health board of directors all need to be fired.
“They’re not keeping (the residents) safe. They’re not providing a standard of care … It’s just shocking that nine months into this pandemic, this kind of outbreak can happen.”
The daughter of another resident said she is also concerned about how the situation is being handled.
“I find the lack of communication and how things are being handled very difficult and painful. I think and worry about the care my parent is receiving – or not receiving – every day. Staff are saying they are short-staffed, yet Tabor claims they have it under control,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
Heidi Giesbrecht, whose father is a Tabor Home resident, disgrees with the two women, saying she has not had any difficulties at any time receiving information about her dad.
She said she and her family were informed on Nov. 12 that her dad had tested positive for the virus. At the time, he was doing well with minor symptoms, and Giesbrecht said she was assured they would be notified immediately if there were any changes and that they could call at any time for an update.
“I became our family’s spokesperson for that. I called twice a day for an update on my dad. Every time I was treated with respect and all my questions were answered,” Giesbrecht said.
She said has been in contact with Levitt several times, and he has always responded “very promptly and courteously.”
The Tabor Home outbreak is the largest that has occurred at a long-term-care home in Fraser Health throughout the pandemic. The largest number of deaths in the region was at Langley Lodge, where 25 residents died during outbreaks in March and April.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Monday that there are currently 54 COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities across B.C.
She said the growth in these outbreaks is linked to how much of the virus is in the community, as employees inadvertently bring COVID-19 into vulnerable care homes when they are contagious before showing symptoms.