COVID-19 ‘outbreak’ at Surrey Memorial Hospital’s kidney unit

The emergency department remains open, memo to staff says

** This story has been updated

“Enhanced precautions” have been implemented at Surrey Memorial Hospital after a patient tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in the nephrology unit, where kidney ailments are treated.

A “COVID-19 Outbreak Alert” was sent in a memo to hospital staff on Tuesday (Sept. 1).

The outbreak, listed among “current outbreaks” on the Fraser Health website, is confined to the hospital’s T7 Pod 2, according to the memo.

The nephrology unit will be temporarily closed to admissions and visitors, but the rest of the hospital, including the emergency department, remains open.

“Infection Prevention and Control has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Surrey Memorial Hospital after evidence of transmission in a specific unit,” says the memo, signed by hospital executive director Martha Cloutier and also Dr. Rob McDermid, site medical director.

“I’m reaching out to you today to let you know, and to assure you that enhanced precautions were implemented immediately as well as contact tracing.”

“There is no impact to any other areas of the hospital,” the staff memo says.

• RELATED STORY: More than 500 Surrey residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, Fraser Health’s interim chief medical health officer, held a media conference call on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 2).

“Yesterday (Tuesday), a patient from the nephrology unit of SMH tested positive for COVID-19,” Brodkin said in a prepared statement. “Upon being notified of the case, we declared an outbreak and took immediate action to address it. We are working with staff and patients to identify everyone who may have been exposed. Enhanced infection prevention and control measures are in place.”

Brodkin went on to explain why the situation has been declared an outbreak at the hospital.

“A case is a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection, and that infection could have been acquired in the community or it could have been acquired somewhere else, like in a hospital,” Brodkin said.

“An outbreak, by definition, means there has been transmission at the hospital site. So in the case of this particular patient, given the length that they were admitted to the hospital, based on the timelines, we believe the most likely scenerio is that this patient acquired their infection on the nephrology unit, and that is what constitutes an outbreak, and that’s why an outbreak was declared and the control measures put in place.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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