Brampton Civic Hospital declares COVID-19 outbreak after 10 staff contract virus
Brampton Civic Hospital has declared a COVID-19 outbreak after 10 members of a specialized kidney care program have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. There have now been 32 staff members across William Osler’s three sites who have contracted the virus.
The outbreak, which was declared April 10, involves healthcare workers from Osler’s renal program. The program runs out of Brampton Civic Hospital and Etobicoke General Hospital, both of which are operated by Osler.
The outbreak stems from a training session held for staff members and not from interacting with COVID-positive patients. It took place before provincial regulations called for gatherings not to exceed five people. Osler’s renal program involves 200 staff members who provide an average of 450 dialysis treatments to patients every week, Donna Harris, manager of public relations for William Osler, told The Pointer via email Monday.
The first staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus March 30, Harris said, with other employees testing positive since then. She says that while most cases are linked to the training session, other cases may be connected to some staff members having lunch together. The province's directive against public gatherings of more than five people was issued March 28, after the session and two days before the first Civic employee in the renal program tested positive.
“A second incident which may be related to the first incident, involves two staff members who tested positive on April 3, likely after eating lunch together in close proximity. The outbreak is related to an event and likely not to delivering care on the unit,” Harris said.
It’s unclear how the virus was contracted by the first staff member who tested positive. Osler says it’s “likely” the individual acquired the virus in the community, according to an “initial investigation”.
There are currently, as of Tuesday morning, 40 patients at Osler’s two full-service hospitals who have tested positive for COVID-19 but information on the network’s website does not indicate how many are at Civic and how many are admitted at Etobicoke General.
Harris said all patients in the renal unit are being notified about the outbreak and monitored, while spread control protocols have been initiated as part of the outbreak declaration.
While she said the healthcare workers who tested positive for the novel coronavirus did not have contact with patients after developing symptoms, they are taking steps to ensure patient safety. “We continue to test and monitor staff and patients from this program in accordance with the direction received from the Ministry of Health. All patients on the dialysis units are being notified and are being actively monitored. All hemodialysis patients will receive testing,” she said.
An outbreak at Osler is declared when two or more patients or healthcare workers are positive for a disease with a common link and the disease is associated with the hospital, the website states. Original guidelines for the declaration of outbreaks at Osler facilities did not involve staff, only patients. That definition has since changed. “Current outbreak definitions extend to situations where there are two or more healthcare workers who experience an acute respiratory illness with any common link within five days of each other, at least one of which is a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 case,” Harris said.
This is the first outbreak to occur at Brampton Civic Hospital in relation to COVID-19. In Mississauga, this has already happened twice. On March 31, Credit Valley Hospital declared an outbreak after four patients within the same unit tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga declared an outbreak two weeks ago when four patients in one unit tested positive for COVID-19
An outbreak was also declared at Mississauga Hospital last week. A number of staff members at the facility’s Medicine Unit 4B tested positive for COVID-19 between March 26 and April 5, all from community transmission, according to officials, who said less than ten staff were infected. Both of these hospitals are managed by Trillium Health Partners (THP).
Officials also announced last week that an employee at Civic passed away from COVID-19 after being admitted to the hospital on March 27. The man, in his late-50s, was part of the cleaning staff but he "likely" contracted the virus in the community, not at work, according to an internal investigation, Peel Public Health stated.
Like Osler, declarations of outbreaks at THP focus around patients. Permanent guidelines around hospital staff are currently being worked on with the assistance of appropriate parties. “Our priority is the safety of our patients and staff at all times, and as a result we have taken additional precautions on this unit including closing the unit to any new admissions, enhanced cleaning on the unit, and increased education on the use of personal protective equipment, increased washing of hands and physical distancing,” a THP media release states.
The outbreaks are the latest challenge frontline healthcare workers are facing in the fight against COVID-19. One of the biggest and ongoing issues is the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Global demand for the supplies and the large amount needed on a daily basis in hospitals have created concerns over possible shortages in the future. But for now, the province has stated supplies are adequate to meet the immediate need.
Within the last week, 1 million masks, 200,000 N95 respirator masks and 38 ventilators have been added to the province’s stockpile warehouse, Queen’s Park announced Monday. The delivery of these supplies to hospitals and long-term care homes is happening on a daily basis.
“I am pleased to report that we continue making significant progress in securing the necessary personal protective equipment needed to effectively respond to COVID-19,” Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Minister of Health, stated.
“Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of patients and the workers caring for them, as well as our first responders. We will continue working around the clock to add to the provincial stockpile to ensure that we are equipped to support those fighting this outbreak on the frontlines,” she added.
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