Operators of a B.C. long-term care centre that housed one of the province’s COVID-19 outbreaks say a hoax phone call caused a “great deal of harm” to the centre’s capacity to care for residents during the pandemic’s critical early period. 

North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 death, a man in his 80s. In total, B.C. health officials said 52 residents and 26 staff contracted the virus and 19 more residents died before the outbreak was declared over on May 7.

In an open letter published Tuesday, the centre said it received a phone call on March 8 — two days after health officials first declared an outbreak there — that appeared to originate from B.C. health authorities. 

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“It deeply alarmed our staff,” the letter said. “Based on the information relayed in that call, out of concern for the safety of our residents, we took immediate action.” 

However, over the next day, the letter says centre staff became aware the call was a hoax, but not before it caused “needless apprehension” among staff and residents. 

“Unfortunately, a great deal of harm had already been done to our capacity to provide the high standard of care for which LVCC has come to be known,” the letter said. 

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“It diverted valuable time and resources away from our capacity to work at a time when we faced the greatest challenge in our Centre’s history. The call kicked us when we were down, really down.”

The centre did not release the contents of the call as they are currently part of an ongoing RCMP investigation. 

A representative from North Vancouver RCMP confirmed to HuffPost Canada that police received a complaint from the Lynn Valley Care Centre in March.

According to RCMP, one arrest has been made, but the investigation is ongoing.

As of May 4, the facility is now COVID-19 free.

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