A longtime nurse who’d been working at one of the B.C. care homes hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic has lost his job and is now under investigation by the province’s college of nurses for allegedly "failing to protect the public" in his handling of personal protective equipment.

In a public notice on its website, the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals said Kenneth Chan is facing serious allegations, including that he "failed to properly don and doff PPE on a number of occasions in March and on one occasion in April 2020 when coming into contact with COVID-19 residents, and failed to co-operate with BCCNP."

It says he’s been removed by his employer and that the licensed practical nurse has had his licence suspended while he’s under investigation.

In response to a series of questions from CTV News, the college said that the Lynn Valley Care Centre made a complaint to them about Chan, who’s been registered with the college since 2007. The North Shore care home has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with more than 70 staff and residents testing positive for COVID-19 and 20 residents dying.

"The allegations are very concerning," said the BCCNP in an email. "Nurses are expected to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) carefully and responsibly. In particular, nurses working in a care home that houses vulnerable seniors must take the utmost care when donning and doffing this equipment."

As part of its investigative process, the college will hear from Chan in his defence. None of the allegations against him have been proven and the process typically takes many months, even a year, to complete.

Challenges in care homes

When asked about the allegations against Chan, Dr. Bonnie Henry said she wasn’t familiar with the case but acknowledged there had been issues training care aides and other workers when the pandemic struck.

"Many people in long-term care don't have the training around appropriately wearing masks and gloves and gowns. It's not the same degree of training we have for nurses and physicians and others in hospitals,” explained the provincial health officer. “It was a learning experience for many people. There was a lot of experience we have around influenza but this is different than influenza and we know that, so it was very much a challenge and the training for care aides, for cleaners, for people who prepare food -- for all of the workers in long-term care has been a dramatic learning curve for all of us over the last few months.”