COVID outbreak at Mennonite care home

September 22, 2021 | News | Volume 25 Issue 20
Amy Rinner Waddell | B.C. Correspondent
Abbotsford, B.C.
Menno Home in Abbotsford has experienced challenges this past year, both with staffing shortages and COVID outbreaks. (Photo by Menno Place)

Menno Home, one of the residential care homes on Menno Place senior care campus in Abbotsford, experienced a COVID-19 outbreak the first week of September. It was announced by Fraser Health on Sept. 2.

Menno Place is operated by the Mennonite Benevolent Society, formed in 1953 to provide long-term care and housing for seniors in the Fraser Valley. With some 700 residents at all levels of care, it is one of the largest elder care facilities in B.C.

As of Sept. 10, there were 36 reported COVID cases on the E1 wing, including 22 residents and 14 staff. A breakdown of numbers among vaccinated and unvaccinated is unavailable. Because of the outbreak, personal visits were suspended at Menno Home but allowed at other locations on the campus.

“At this time, all four of the neighborhoods within the Menno Home building are cohorted,” says a report on the facility’s website. “This means that staff only work in their one specific unit with separate entrances and break rooms minimizing any transmission between units.”

The pandemic has complicated staffing at Menno Place and other health care facilities in B.C. Single-site staffing requirements were put in place in 2020, declaring that workers in long-term care and assisted living are allowed to work at only one site for the duration of the provincial orders. This, along with workers off due to illness, caused a shortage of long-term care workers.

To help solve the problem, Karen Biggs, Menno Place CEO, recruited friends and family of residents for temporary hiring to replace lost staff in positions such as laundry and housekeeping. Last December, 54 people, including residents’ grandchildren, applied to work at Menno Place, just to be able to see their family members during the lockdown.

Provincial mandatory staff vaccination requirements that begin Oct. 12 could further affect the staffing at Menno Place. Biggs recently told the Vancouver Sun that she feared up to 10 percent of her staff could be lost to community health work or acute care facilities. Workers in senior care facilities are required to be immunized against COVID, while staff at hospitals and health care workers who work in the community are not.

Do you have a story idea about Mennonites in B.C.? Send it to Amy Rinner Waddell at

Menno Home in Abbotsford has experienced challenges this past year, both with staffing shortages and COVID outbreaks. (Photo by Menno Place)

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