Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer says proper hygiene, distancing and curtains can allow patients suspected of having COVID-19 to remain safely in the same rooms as other patients until a diagnosis is confirmed. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer says proper hygiene, distancing and curtains can allow patients suspected of having COVID-19 to remain safely in the same rooms as other patients until a diagnosis is confirmed. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Curtain barriers allow suspected COVID patients to share care-home rooms with others, Fraser Health says

Provincial and federal guidelines say symptomatic patients should get their own rooms, when possible

Some Fraser Health long-term care patients showing symptoms of having COVID-19 may continue sharing rooms with asymptomatic patients until it is confirmed they have the virus.

That has alarmed some familiar with the practice, and federal and provincial guidelines suggest such patients should be moved to single rooms when possible. But Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer says it’s safe for symptomatic patients to continue sharing a room with others prior to confirmation of their diagnosis, so long as a curtain is erected around the patient, appropriate distancing between beds exists and advanced hygiene measures are in place.

“We have to remember, COVID-19 is spread by direct contact and by droplets, so those measures are sufficient to prevent the spread,” Dr. Martin Lavoie told The News. “This is not airborne. So having a curtain, having the physical distance between the beds, which is sufficient as well, the hand-washing, the use of proper PPE, all these measures are excellent at protecting against the spread of COVID-19.”

It’s unclear how prevalent the practice is in Fraser Health or in other health authorities. The scenario usually only occurs during the time between the onset of symptoms and the arrival of test results, at least in Abbotsford. When a positive case is confirmed, patients are usually transferred to a specialized unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital where all those being treated all have COVID-19.

Lavoie was clear Thursday that when a symptomatic person is in a room with multiple others, curtains can and are used to separate them from others.

But while he said the situation isn’t unsafe, guiding documents from both the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) and the federal government say it’s not preferred.

In March, the BC CDC issued guidelines for how long-term care homes should handle suspected COVID-19 cases. That document [read here] says:

“Any resident who is identified with respiratory symptoms should be placed on additional (Droplet/Contact) precautions without delay and should be placed in a single-bed room, if possible. If not possible, a separation of two metres must be maintained between the bed space of the ill resident and all roommates, and privacy curtains should be drawn.”

The federal government issued similar guidelines at the start of April.

That document says:

“A resident with suspect or confirmed COVID-19 infection, or who is a high-risk contact of a confirmed COVID-19 positive person, should be cared for in a single room if feasible, with a dedicated toilet and sink designated for their use. If this is not possible, a separation of two metres must be maintained between the bed space of the affected resident and all roommates with privacy curtains drawn. The resident should be restricted to their room or bed space.

“Clear (multilingual signage as required) signage that indicates Droplet and Contact precautions needs to be in place, posted in such a way that it is clearly visible to all entering the resident room or bed space.

“Posters illustrating the correct method for putting on and removing PPE should be displayed inside and outside of each COVID-19 resident’s room or bed space for easy visual cues.

“Roommates of symptomatic residents should not be moved to new shared rooms, and instead should be moved to a new single room for isolation and monitoring for symptoms, or maintained in place if a two-metre separation and privacy curtain can be implemented.”

story continues below

Saskatchewan and Alberta each have similar guidelines. In Saskatchewan, patients with suspected cases of COVID-19 are among the highest priority when it comes to deciding who should be placed in a private room.

Fraser Health has a long-standing shortage of care beds, with the situation particularly acute in Abbotsford, where officials have been promising to build hundreds of new care beds for nearly a decade. Those beds have never been built and the strain on the system has only increased as the province has worked to move as many seniors out of hospital as quickly as possible to free up space for a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.

FROM 2014: Fraser Health seeks development partner for MSA Hospital lands

The News asked Fraser Health Thursday why it might not be possible to put every suspected COVID-19 patient a private room, as the provincial guidelines suggest. Fraser Health has not responded yet.

The News also asked the Ministry of Health about the appropriateness of keeping such patients in rooms with those who are asymptomatic, but has not heard back. The News will update the story if and when more information is provided.

RELATED: IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Curtain barriers allow suspected COVID patients to share care-home rooms with others, Fraser Health says

Curtain barriers allow suspected COVID patients to share care-home rooms with others, Fraser Health says

Just Posted

A home on the corner of at the corner of 63B Avenue and 165A Street boasts a display of thousands of lights that bring in people throughout the city to check it out. The family also collects donations for BC Children's Hospital. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Lisa Batstone’s appeal of her conviction and sentence for the killing of her eight-year-old daughter is set for Jan. 12, 2021. (File photos)
South Surrey mother’s murder-appeal date set

Lisa Batstone is appealing her conviction and sentence in death of eight-year-old daughter

LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot designed by Xenex Disinfection Services. (Contributed photo)
Germ-killing robot on the job at White Rock’s Peace Arch Hospital

Goal to match $100,000 donation met, say PAHF officials

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The westbound lanes of Highway 1 between Clearbrook and McCallum roads were closed to traffic Wednesday morning after a fatal collision involving a pedestrian.
Pedestrian dies after being struck by vehicle on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Collision takes place early Wednesday morning between Clearbrook and McCallum roads

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

FILE – A near empty waterfront train platform is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
TransLink disables some services for second day due to ‘suspicious network activity’

Customers cannot use credit card or debit card at fare gates or Compass card vending machines

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:14 a.m.
Westbound Highway 1 lanes in Abbotsford closed as crews investigate serious crash

Crash occurred between McCallum and Riverside roads at around 4 a.m., next update at 8 a.m.

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

Most Read