A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH)’s Restorative Care Unit (1B) after eight patients have tested positive. Regular visiting temporarily paused in this area of the hospital.
Visiting continues as usual outside the Restorative Care Unit unless patients are in isolation for COVID-19 infection or exposure. Limited exceptions are made for COVID-19 positive patients on discussion with Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) staff and the care team including, for example, those at imminent end-of-life.
The following is a summary of the infection prevention and control measures in place at NHH:
• Effective August 14, temporary closure of the Restorative Care Unit to all new admissions. Regular visiting is temporarily paused in this area.
• Daily self-screening by staff for COVID-19 symptoms – All individuals entering the hospital for work must 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 in clinical and patient care areas – All staff, physicians, midwives, and essential caregivers/visitors are expected to pay strict attention to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements throughout the hospital. NHH’s masking policy remains in effect for all clinical and patient care areas. Visitors continue to have access to free masks at entry to the hospital and NHH’s Community Mental Health offices and will be expected to keep their masks on at all times while inside clinical areas.
• No eating or drinking is permitted by visitors in patient rooms – This is due to the fact that masks would need to be removed.
• Monitoring of patients considered “high risk contacts” – Any patients identified as having a high risk of exposure have been relocated, tested, and are being cared for with appropriate precautions.
• Mandatory vaccination of staff – All staff and physicians are required to be up to date with their vaccines (two doses); booster vaccines 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 – Enhanced cleaning, with a focus on high touch surfaces and common spaces.
• Proactive communication – Public notices are continually updated across NHH’s communication channels, including doorways within/leading to the hospital, to promote awareness of the presence of COVID-19 and the importance of vigilance with PPE.
Masking remains a shared responsibility to mitigate spread Masking continues to remain in place throughout clinical and patient care areas in hospital and NHH’s Community Mental Health offices. Visitors have access to free masks on entry and are expected 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. Visitors who have recently developed COVID-19 are not permitted to visit patients for 10 full days from the date of symptom onset or from testing positive (whichever date is earliest).
“As COVID-19 restrictions have eased considerably in the last year, we would like to remind visitors that masking is still required in all patient care areas across NHH,” said Ellen Douglas, Manager, Occupational Health and Infection Control. “Visitors who come to patient care units while unwell risk transmitting infection to our vulnerable patients. If you are visiting a loved one and have COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, or are feeling unwell, please reschedule your visit. Outbreaks require us to temporarily suspend visiting to the entire unit affected, which is difficult for everyone involved. Thank you for your continued support.”
For details on NHH’s Visiting Guidelines and expectations, including options and answers to other Frequently Asked Questions, please see our website. Updates on NHH’s COVID-19 status will continue to be communicated through the hospital’s website and related social media channels. Community outbreak information will be found on the HKPRDHU’s Respiratory Diseases Dashboard, which provides a high-level assessment of local respiratory virus activity.