Karen Baillie has been in the residential care business for 35 years, and she says this is a first for her.
Ms. Baillie, executive director of Laurel Place in Surrey, was referring to a rare, public-health edict requiring all visitors and staff at 125 long-term care facilities throughout the Fraser Health Authority to wear a mask, if they have not had a flu shot.
The order was imposed this week by the authority’s chief medical health officer, Paul Van Buynder, to combat what he calls “a perfect storm” of winter influenza viruses sweeping through the province’s largest health-care district.
Ms. Baillie said extra staff have been posted to the reception area at Laurel Place to intercept visitors and find out their vaccination status.
About a third report not being immunized against influenza, and they are then asked to don a surgical mask, before being allowed in.
So far, all have complied, Ms. Baillie said. “No one’s giving us grief, no one’s given us any static, at all.”
At the George Derby Centre in Burnaby, executive director Janice Mitchell said visitors are being asked to sign in and told of the new requirement. Some opt to be vaccinated on the spot, she added, noting, however, that they must still wait two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, and wear a mask in the interval.
“Some are surprised, but it’s been absolutely no issue. They are happy to comply,” said Ms. Mitchell.
She said George Derby, with its 300 residents, is in the midst of its second influenza outbreak this season.