Update on COVID-19 Outbreak at St. Mary’s and Investigation of Potential Outbreaks

December 12th, 2020

December 12, 2020 – This update shares news about the confirmed COVID-19 outbreak on St. Mary’s sixth floor, the completion of an investigation on the seventh floor to confirm there is not an outbreak on the floor, and the initiation of a new investigation on the fifth floor.

New investigation: St. Mary’s has initiated an investigation of a potential outbreak of COVID-19 on its fifth floor inpatient unit. This comes after a positive test result on a patient on the unit today, as well as one staff member. Similar to previous investigations, proactive measures have been put in place as the hospital investigates a potential outbreak, in consultation with Public Health. Our thoughts are with patients and staff.

As a precaution, the following measures are in place on the fifth floor:

  • The unit is closed to new admissions.
  • The entire unit is on droplet/contact precautions.
  • Care Partner visits are temporarily suspended, with visits permitted only for palliative patients, and where the care team deems Care Partner visits are essential to an improvement in the patient’s condition. Patient Experience will assist to organize telephone and virtual visits for patients and families.
  • Nine patients on the unit are being tested, and based on results, additional testing of staff will be conducted.
  • Enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces and high traffic areas continues.

Confirmed outbreak: Meanwhile, an outbreak of COVID-19 on St. Mary’s sixth floor continues. To date 12 patients and eight staff diagnosed with COVID-19 are associated with the outbreak. All are in our thoughts.

Until such time as the outbreak can be declared over, the following measures remain in place on the sixth floor:

  • The sixth floor Chest Unit is closed to new admissions, except for COVID-positive or COVID-resolved cases
  • Droplet contact precautions are in effect for all patients on the entire unit
  • Care Partner visits are temporarily suspended to the sixth floor with the exception of visits with palliative patients, and for those visits deemed essential by the unit care team to support a marked improvement in a patient’s condition. Patient Experience will assist to organize telephone and virtual visits for patients and families.
  • Asymptomatic testing on site will be available to add staff on 600 from Monday to Wednesday of next week.
  • Enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces and high traffic areas continues.

No outbreak on seventh floor: After a period of surveillance, contact tracing and testing of patients and staff on St. Mary’s seventh floor, the hospital, in close consultation with Public Health has determined there is not an outbreak on the seventh floor and the investigation is complete as of this morning, December 12. This is based on no additional spread on the unit.

As a result, the following changes have been made:

  • The unit is reopened to new admissions.
  • Care Partner visits are restored as per hospital policy (two identified Care Partners per patient for the duration on of the patient stay and only one in the hospital and the bedside at one time.
  • Enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces and high traffic areas continues.

“St. Mary’s staff have been working diligently to limit opportunities for COVID-19 to spread by taking precautions to protect patients and themselves,” said St. Mary’s President Lee Fairclough. “COVID-19 is a relentless virus with a long incubation period and the potential for late onset of symptoms that can extend the period and frequency of outbreaks. We are deeply concerned for the impact this has had on patients in our care and staff. While we are pleased that there has been no further spread on our seventh floor, we will continue to heighten efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission throughout the building,” she said.