North Vancouver hospital, first in Canada to admit a COVID patient, marks first COVID-free day

First COVID-free day

Lions Gate Hospital, the first hospital in Canada to admit a COVID-19 patient, marked its first day without a single COVID patient this week.

At the end of January 2020, the North Vancouver hospital was the first acute care hospital in Canada to admit a patient for treatment of the virus, before many in Canada were aware of the threat it posed.

On Tuesday, hospital staff marked their first day since then without a single COVID-positive patient.

“We have had 493 days of having COVID positive patients in the hospital. As of yesterday, we have zero,” Sean Parr, interim vice-president of community care for Vancouver Coastal Health, told a crowd of gathered dignitaries at Lions Gate Hospital Wednesday.

The dignitaries were on hand as Lions Gate staff were among those honoured by the British Columbia Veterans Commemorative Association for exception efforts in fighting the global pandemic.

The group is typically exclusively focused on veterans but made an exception in light of the heroic efforts made by people in uniforms of all types – including hospital scrubs – over the course of the COVID-19.

The first case of novel coronavirus reported in British Columbia was on Jan. 28, 2020 in a man in his 40s who had returned to the Vancouver area after travelling to Wuhan, China on business and began experiencing symptoms 24 hours later.

Days later, more COVID cases were identified, including two people visiting Vancouver from Wuhan and in a woman in her 50s who is believed to have contracted the virus from them.

In February and through to the beginning of March 2020, four more COVID cases were identified in B.C., including several in people who had recently been in Iran. At the time, the world was only just learning about cases in that country and the identification of the B.C. cases helped alert world health authorities that the scale of infection in that country had been vastly under-reported.

Health authorities in B.C. never publicly announced the first case of a COVID patient being hospitalized at Lions Gate – until now. It's not known which of the early COVID patients was hospitalized first.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the hospital has also faced three outbreaks on different wards – one in each “wave” of infections - in April and November 2020 and in April/May of 2021. A total of 123 people contracted the virus in those three outbreaks and 28 people died.

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