Northumberland Hills Hospital Announces New COVID-19 Outbreak

In Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Northumberland Hills Hospital is experiencing its first surge in COVID-19 cases since last October.

After consultation with the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit as well as NHH’s Infection Prevention and Control leads and staff, the hospital has made the difficult decision to declare a temporary pause on visiting to the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit due to the outbreak. At present, there are four active COVID cases among admitted inpatients on that unit.

Consistent with past outbreaks, visiting exceptions to COVID-positive patients on the unit will continue to be made for those at imminent end of life, in consultation with the IPAC and the health-care team.

Visiting continues as usual outside the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, unless patients are in isolation due to COVID infection or exposure. Again, limited exceptions may be made for these patients (for example, in imminent end-of-life situations) in consultation with the IPAC and the care team.

The announcement included a recap of infection-prevention and -control measures in place in response to the outbreak.

Temporary closure of the affected unit to all new admissions

Daily self-screening by staff for COVID-19 symptoms. All individuals entering the hospital to work must pre-screen for symptoms and refrain from entering the building or community mental-health office should symptoms develop.

Mandatory use of appropriate PPE by all staff, physicians, midwives, essential caregivers and visitors. This includes the universal masking policy, which remains in effect.

Cohorting of patients considered “high risk contacts.” These patients will be co-located into the same area, tested, and cared for with appropriate precautions.

Mandatory vaccination of staff and physicians, with the requirement to be up to date with the intial two doses and booster vaccines. These will be made available to reduce the risk of infection and spread.

Strict adherence to thorough hand-hygiene practice.

Enhanced environmental cleaning, with a focus on equipment shared among patient rooms.

Proactive communications. Public notices are continually updated across NHH communications channels, including on doorways, to promote awareness of the presence of COVID0-19 and the importance of vigilance with PPE.

NHH reiterates the importance of the universal requirement that remains in effect as a means of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 both in the hospital and in the Community Mental Health offices. Visitors have access to free masks at all entries, and they are expected to keep these medical-grade masks on at all times (or over top of their personal cloth masks) unless eating or drinking in designated areas. No eating or drinking is permitted by visitors in patient rooms, due to the need to remain continually masked.

“Despite NHH’s ongoing universal-masking policy, we continue to see some visitors taking a relaxed approach to masking while inside the hospital, either by removing their mask after entry, eating or drinking in patient rooms, or letting it drop down below their nose or chin,” Manager of Infection Prevention and Control Ellen Douglas said in the announcement.

“As we have seen before, this has not only contributed to some patients contracting COVID-19, but now an outbreak on our Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit.

“All visitors are reminded that when they do not wear their mask properly or consistently while inside the hospital, there is an increased infection risk to the loved ones they are visiting, as well as other vulnerable patients around them. The message continues to be – please wear your mask.”

For details on visiting guidelines and expectations, including information on virtual-visiting options and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the NHH website.

Updates to NHH’s COVID-19 status will continue to be communicated through the NHH website and related social-media channels.

For more community-outbreak information, visit https://www.hkpr.on.ca/category/mycommunity/outbreaks/

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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