Gostrointestinal Outbreak Prompts Infection Control Measures at UHNBC – Update
Prince George, B.C. – Northern Health is taking all necessary steps to deal with a gastrointestinal outbreak which has hit the Prince George area and is affecting staff and patients at UHNBC.
Media Relations spokesperson Andrea Palmer says “there’s a lot of staff that are ill but I can’t give a percentage because its been changing day-to-day. The word I’ve gotten is that the staff members who are getting it aren’t getting it at the hospital. They’re getting it in the community or getting it from their kids, it’s circulating in Prince George.”
Palmer says “there are some patients who had it who also brought it into hospital and they’re just trying to keep everybody there safe, including staff, because they don’t want it spreading in the hospital. So it’s an outbreak in the sense that so many people have it within a short time span” but she also says it’s the time of year when people typically come down with gastrointestinal illness.
She says some staff members in virtually every department at the hospital have been calling in sick since last week. “Some of the areas affected have been Maternity, which is why we’re limiting access to that ward specifically. There have been staff in surgery who have called in sick with symptoms, and also Emergency. Almost every unit has had at least one person ill in the past few days. And we’re not talking huge numbers, like yesterday it was one in Emergency.”
Palmer says Northern Health has been dealing with the situation in the community since last Friday. However, she says healthy people are finding they’re only experiencing symptoms for about one day and then they are fine. “But”, she says “for people who are vulnerable it can be more serious and, particularly in hospital, infection control measures have to be put in just so it doesn’t spread.”
Those measures include requesting that people who have recently exhibited GI symptoms not go to visit anyone at the hospital until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours. Palmer says “we’re not formally barring people from the hospital, we’re asking basically for community co-operation at this point and, if it isn’t urgent to visit someone at the hospital that people stay home. And that’s to protect our patients and staff but also to protect the public, that the hospital is not where you want to go unless there’s really quite a serious reason you need to visit someone right now.”
Another of the infection control measures is a request that no media visit the hospital right now to conduct interviews or take photos of the families welcoming New Years babies.
Palmer says “right now at the hospital it is an outbreak, so when they give us the all-clear then we’ll resume visits as normal.”
Update – Spokesperson Andrea Palmer says visitors to the hospital are being asked to check in at the nursing stations on the particular ward they are visiting before they go to see a patient or enter a patient room. It is an extra precaution being taken as peoples’ wellness can change as can the infectious level from time to time.
She also says there is ample signage posted throughout the hospital, at all entrances, the cafeteria, all floors and on patient rooms as appropriate letting people know that they are requested not to visit if they are sick or have been sick within the last 48 hours. And, if you must visit you are asked to please wash your hands.