The transfer of seniors into a new long-term care home in Victoria has been put on hold, and the facility could be used to help free up space in hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak, Island Health confirmed Monday.
The health authority had been planning to move residents from Oak Bay Lodge and the Mount Tolmie long-term care home into The Summit at Quadra Village toward the end of April.
But officials recently notified families that it’s delaying that plan to protect the health of residents and staff.
“Transferring residents from one facility to another requires the participation of large teams of people,” Island Health said in a statement. “To undertake this move at this time would be inconsistent with the provincial health officer’s direction on social distancing and could increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19.”
The health authority said its hospitals are currently at about 75 per cent capacity across Vancouver Island.
But if more space is needed to handle COVID-19 cases, Island Health says it will use The Summit’s 320 beds for hospital patients who are awaiting transfer to other levels of care or who require rehabilitation.
The facility at 955 Hillside Ave. was built to serve seniors with dementia or complex care needs.
Health Minister Adrian Dix pointed to the possible use of The Summit as one way that health authorities are freeing up acute-care space in hospitals as the number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. reached 472 Monday.
The decision to postpone non-urgent scheduled surgeries has freed up hundreds of beds across the province. Dix said all hospital beds in the province are usually full at this time of year, but the current occupancy sits at 68.6 per cent, leaving 3,362 beds available for an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.
“It means that hospitals — and I talked to people both in a hospital and working this weekend — feel empty,” Dix said. “They feel quiet. And obviously they feel as if they’re anticipating something that’s about to come and so that, needless to say, is a source of anxiety.”
Dix made the comments at a media briefing in Victoria as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed 48 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since the last update on Saturday.
There are now 39 cases on Vancouver Island, 248 in the Vancouver Coast Health Authority, 150 in Fraser Health, 30 in Interior Health and five in Northern Health.
There have been three additional deaths, including two residents of Lower Mainland care homes, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 13.
Henry said 33 people are in hospital, and 14 of those are in intensive-care units. There are now confirmed cases at six long-term-care facilities on the Lower Mainland.
On a positive note, 100 people have recovered and been released from isolation, she said.
Henry said that people are mostly doing their part to fight the outbreak by keeping their distance from others.
“But we cannot let up,” she said.