If Covid-19 has taught us anything it's that pandemics take a terrible toll on the elderly, especially those in nursing homes. Unless...
As the coronavirus scythed through nursing homes, cutting a deadly path, Valerie Martin vowed to herself that the story would be different in the home she runs in France.
The action she took to stop the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, from infecting and killing the vulnerable older adults in her care was both drastic and effective: Martin and her staff locked themselves in with the 106 residents.
For 47 days and nights, staff and residents of the Vilanova nursing home on the outskirts of the east central city of Lyon waited out the coronavirus storm together, while COVID-19 killed tens of thousands of people in other homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 in France.
"I said, 'No, not mine. My residents still have so much to live for,'" Martin said in an interview. "I don't want this virus to kill them when they have been through so much."
On Monday, Martin and 12 colleagues, who stayed in the home for the full duration, ended their quarantine with hugs of celebration and singing, and with an uplifting victory: COVID-19 tests conducted on the residents and staff all came back negative. The caregivers, who nicknamed themselves "the happily confined," left in a convoy of cars, joyously honking horns and heading for reunions with families, pets and homes.One of the problems we've had in our nursing homes is that staff are inadequately paid. Some of them have to take jobs at more than one home. And exposed to the virus when out of the facilities, they carry it back inside with them when they report for work and then it progresses from one home to the next. All part of what Morneau calls "job churn" and the gig economy.
Good news today for British Columbia and, especially, for Vancouver Island. The province's medical officer of health, Bonnie Henry, reports just eight new Covid-19 cases since mid-March. Over that interval there have been no new cases on Vancouver Island.