Enteric and COVID-19 Outbreak Declared at Northumberland Hills Hospital

In Local

Visitor restrictions in place

Further to the notice shared yesterday (February 23), a cluster of patients and staff with symptoms of an enteric (gastrointestinal) infection was identified earlier this week on Northumberland
Hills Hospital’s Restorative Care unit.

The hospital team has been working with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit to assess the situation and communicate information.  On Friday, February 24, additional cases of gastrointestinal illness were confirmed on the adjacent Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit; at the same time, test results confirmed several positive inpatient cases of COVID-19 on Restorative Care.

As a result, the Health Unit has declared NHH’s Restorative Care unit to be on both an enteric and COVID-19 outbreak; Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit has been declared in an
outbreak situation for enteric (gastrointestinal illness). The follow control measures have been put into place, including limits to general visiting in selected areas:

• Visiting – Regular visiting on 1B (Restorative) and 1A (Inpatient Rehab) has been suspended for the time being, unless patients meet the compassionate visitor criteria for end-of-life. All other areas of the hospital, including Palliative Care, remain open to visitors, outside the requirements of the ongoing COVID-19 Visitor Policy.

• Admissions – New admissions to 1B (Restorative Care) and 1A (inpatient Rehab) have been paused.

• Dining – Patients on the impacted areas will receive meals in their rooms for the time being, instead of the communal dining rooms on Restorative and Inpatient Rehab, to minimize the risk of spread.

• Monitoring and testing – Close monitoring by NHH’s Infection Prevention and Control Team is in place and COVID-19 testing has been completed; any patient who develops new on-set of enteric infection symptoms (nausea, diarrhea and vomiting) will be tested as appropriate and placed on contact precautions.

• Contact precautions – All symptomatic patients have been isolated or colocated and cared for with appropriate contact precautions. Enhanced use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, signage has been posted outside affected patient rooms with these directions and staff assignments are being cohorted as able.

• Enhanced environmental cleaning – Increased cleaning, including common areas and any equipment shared between patient rooms, is ongoing.

• Strict adherence to thorough hand hygiene practices – Scrupulous hand hygiene is one of the most important infection prevention and control practices to stop transmission of gastrointestinal illness and other infectious diseases. Strict adherence to thorough hand hygiene with soap and water will continue to be reinforced.

• Communication – The family/loved ones of affected patients have been notified and public notices have been placed on all appropriate hospital entrances as well as to the doorways within/leading to Restorative Care and Inpatient Rehab to promote awareness. Updates will be provided as new information is available.

Northumberland Hills Hospital remains fully operational, with programs and services across the hospital operating as normal. The Infection Prevention and Control Team asks that everyone be diligent in practicing appropriate hand hygiene and infection prevention and control practices when visiting the hospital at any time. Frequent hand washing, particularly before and after patient contact, is mandatory and vital to reducing health care associated infections.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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