By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The day after Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking stated publicly that the seventh wave of COVID-19 is going strong, Northumberland Hills Hospital has announced that – as case counts increase – the number of patients admitted continues to rise.
“Sadly, COVID-19 has not gone away,” NHH President and Chief Executive Officer Susan Walsh said in sharing the information with hospital staff, physicians, midwives and volunteers.
“We currently have 11 admitted patients confirmed positive for COVID-19. Some are here because of COVID-19, some came to hospital for other reasons but were found to have COVID-19 through our screening procedures. And unfortunately, some five individuals to have contracted COVID-19 while inside the hospital through person-to-person transmission.”
These 11 inpatients are located on three units: the 2A and 2B medical/surgical units on the hospital’s second floor as well as on Inpatient Rehabilitation on the main level.
Walsh said the NHH infection-prevention and -control team is working closely with the health unit.
“We are taking every step possible to minimize opportunities for the transmission of COVID-19 inside the hospital and we thank everyone for their continued cooperation and support,” she said.
As a precaution, patients and staff considered more at risk of exposure have been tested. Patients recently discharged from the units are in the process of being contacted and provided with instructions regarding self-monitoring and, as appropriate, testing.
The announcement listed infection-prevention and -control measures now in place:
Daily self-screening by staff for COVID-19 symptoms – All individuals entering the hospital for work are required to pre-screen for symptoms and refrain from entering the building or community mental health offices in the event symptoms develop.
Mandatory use of appropriate PPE – All staff, physicians, midwives and essential caregivers and visitors are expected to pay strict attention to PPE requirements throughout the hospital, and NHH’s universal masking policy remains in effect.
Cohorting of patients considered “high risk contacts” – Any patients identified as having a high risk of exposure have been co-located into the same area, tested and cared for with appropriate precautions. New admissions will continue to be evaluated on an as-required basis in consultation with Public Health.
Mandatory vaccination of staff – All staff and physicians are required to be up to date with their vaccines (two doses). Booster vaccines will continue to be distributed to further reduce the risk of infection and spread.
Strict adherence to thorough hand hygiene practices – Strict adherence to thorough hand hygiene will continue to be reinforced.
Enhanced environmental cleaning – This entails increased cleaning of the units and increased cleaning of equipment shared between patient rooms.
Proactive communication – In addition to reaching out directly to all patients involved and to those recently discharged, public notices will be placed on all appropriate hospital entrances as well as to the doorways within and leading to the units involved to promote awareness of the presence of COVID-19 and the importance of vigilance with PPE.
While the hospital remains fully operational, patients and visitors are encouraged to remain mindful of the following:
Universal masking policy remains in place
As a high-risk setting, NHH’s universal masking policy remains in place throughout the hospital and Community Mental Health offices. Visitors will continue to have access to free masks on entry to the hospital, and NHH’s Community Mental Health offices and will be asked to keep their medical-grade mask on at all times (or over top of their personal cloth mask) while inside, unless eating or drinking in designated areas. No eating or drinking is permitted by visitors in patient rooms.
In-person visiting paused for inpatients confirmed positive
The Health Unit has formally declared a COVID-19 outbreak at NHH. At this time, visiting has been paused for those inpatients who are in isolation for COVID-19 infection or exposure. For details on NHH’s Visiting Guidelines, including exceptions, please visit the hospital’s website.
Updates on NHH’s COVID-19 status will be communicated through the hospital’s website and related social-media channels. Community outbreak information will be found on the health unit website at Community Outbreaks – Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit