Island Health has identified a second case of COVID-19 — this time in a resident — at a long-term care home in Port Alberni.
An outbreak at the 44-bed Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens — the first in a residential care facility in the Island Health region — was declared this week after a staff member tested positive for the virus. The staff member is isolated and recovering at home.
The resident was a close contact to that initial staff case, said Island Health, which received the positive result on Wednesday.
The health authority said the resident was being transferred out of the facility. “This is only precautionary and this resident is not experiencing symptoms at this time.”
To date, all other tests for residents and staff have come back negative, said Island Health.
Since the outbreak was declared Monday, three residents considered close contacts of the initial infected staff member have been isolated in their rooms, said Island Health. Staff caring for the three residents have been using enhanced personal protective equipment, and PPE use across the site has been increased.
Public health nurses are going to the long-term care home to help with testing of all 44 residents and all staff, Island Health said, and residents of the adjacent assisted-living facility will also be tested “out of an abundance of caution.”
Additional housecleaning and care aide staff support is being provided, and other Island Health staff have been deployed to the site to take any further actions required and to answer questions from staff, residents and family members.
Rainbow Gardens, a not-for-profit facility operated by WestCoast Native Health Care Society that houses many First Nations elders, is now closed to visitors and no new patients can be admitted or transferred in or out.
The majority of those who work and live there are Nuu-chah-nulth, said Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, a non-profit society that provides services and supports to 14 nations with about 10,000 members.
The residents are elders, former leaders and a source of knowledge, language, history and culture for the community, Sayers said.
“It really causes a lot of alarm bells to go on because if there was a staff member with it, they probably spread it and how far is it going to go?” she said. “I know that the people that are at Rainbow Gardens are doing everything they can to prevent the spread, but I just hope that it doesn’t spread any further.”
Island Health says there is no link between the outbreaks at the Port Alberni long-term care facility and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, where five staff members tested positive last.
As of Thursday, 100 NRGH staff members have been tested and received a negative result. All 34 patients on the unit where four of the staff who tested positive work have been tested twice and those results were also negative.
Island Health spokesperson Dominic Abassi said no new cases related to the outbreak have been identified.
For more information on COVID-19, go to islandhealth.ca/covid19.
— With a file from Katie DeRosa