Burnaby Hospital. Dennis Sylvester Hurd / Flickr

New report shows at least 185 people caught COVID at Burnaby Hospital through the pandemic

More than 185 patients and staff members have contracted COVID at Burnaby Hospital over the course of the pandemic, and at least 19 have died—although the real number is higher.

By Srushti Gangdev | November 26, 2021 |5:00 am

More than 185 patients and staff members have contracted COVID at Burnaby Hospital over the course of the pandemic, and at least 19 have died—although the real number is higher.

That’s according to data from the BC Centre for Disease Control, in a new report on COVID outbreaks in acute care facilities throughout the province. Across BC, at least 1,533 patients were infected with COVID while seeking medical treatment at hospitals, and at least 189 people have died.

The report is current up to November 12, and omits instances where five people or fewer were infected or died “to avoid reidentification”—providing only an “x” in those circumstances. Outbreaks where no one died indicate that with “0.”

The report provides some details of 14 different outbreaks among different units in Burnaby Hospital.

Patients made up the majority of cases contracted through outbreaks—although, gleaning exact numbers of either patient or staff infections is difficult, due to the number of omissions related to privacy concerns.

Three of the 14 outbreaks saw five or fewer people infected, including the most recent one declared over on Nov 22.

Only two outbreaks saw no deaths at all, but 10 saw five or fewer—making it impossible to know exactly how many people have actually died from COVID in Burnaby while receiving medical treatment for another illness. No staff members died in BC.

The report is imprecise and acknowledges itself as such. Apart from the data omitted for privacy reasons, it also warns that “data on outbreaks might be incomplete or vary from what is reported publicly due to differing data sources.”

“Data may not be complete or accurate as data may be unavailable, not yet available in the public systems or updates are occurring over time. Inaccuracies may be noted when comparing between reports, and data should be interpreted with caution for those outbreaks that are still active,” it further adds.

One such instance in Burnaby relates to an outbreak declared on Nov 9, 2020—days before a fire, later determined to be arson, forced the swift evacuation of the hospital.

“At the time of the fire, the immediate safety of our patients was our priority, which meant that some were moved to areas of the hospital they normally would not be placed in a short period of time. As a result, the fire is considered to be a contributing factor to the outbreak,” Fraser Health said in a Nov 24, 2020 update.

Public health said at the time that at least 62 patients and 50 staff members were infected in the outbreak, and a dozen people died.

The report, released Thursday, comes after months of repeated requests from CTV News—which it said were met with “stonewalling, redactions and insistence that no such documentation exists, even though lives were lost.”

Information finally obtained by CTV through a Freedom of Information Act request showed problems common in many Fraser Health hospitals, including Burnaby Hospital.

“Among these issues were patients who were unknowingly COVID-positive moved between units, staff who didn’t distance or wear masks outside of patient treatment areas, issues with clutter and hygiene, questionable adherence to personal protective equipment rules and staff who were working while infectious,” CTV reported.

The report is now up on the BCCDC’s website, and includes a note that it will not be regularly updated. That’s in contrast to a weekly report on outbreaks in long-term care, assisted living, and independent living facilities—although that also came after lengthy criticisms on BC’s transparency issues.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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