The Vernon and District Association for Community Living has closed its day services indefinitely following several positive COVID-19 tests over the Christmas holidays.
The association, otherwise known as Venture Training, offers programs to people with developmental disabilities in a number of care homes in Vernon.
Executive Director Ryan Cucheron says a total of 17 staff members and five residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
He says that on Dec. 24, a resident in one of the homes was taken to hospital with what was then thought to be pneumonia. After receiving a test, the resident was found to have contracted the novel coronavirus.
Later that day, he was contacted by a staff member who told him they had also tested positive.
“So then we right away went into our exposure control plan, getting all staff that had contact with these (people) tested — which essentially was every staff in the house,” Cucheron said.
Ten of the staff members who tested positive were working out of a program based in a Vernon care home away from Venture Training’s main site on Alexis Park Drive, Cucheron said. Two were from another program and five were casual employees who work in various other care homes at different times.
Venture Training day services were supposed to resume Jan. 4 after the holidays, but Cucheron says public health authorities have instructed him to keep those services closed indefinitely.
However, the agency’s residents still need care around the clock, which has meant staff have had to don full personal protective equipment (PPE) as they continue to work in Venture Training’s five group homes.
“We’ve just been having to get staff to come work because obviously the individuals who live there, the residents, still need care 24-7,” Cucheron said.
Cucheron says Venture Training has been getting many well wishes from other agencies. There is some need for resources as the agency must now increase its stock of PPE to keep up with its strict exposure control protocols.
“All staff are wearing full PPE, gowns, gloves, masks, face shields, so we’re always working to make sure those supplies are full,” he said.
Venture Training is working closely with Interior Health’s communicable disease unit since the outbreak began.