The president of the B.C. Nurses Union says she is very concerned about a COVID-19 outbreak at Abbotsford Regional Hospital that made six health care workers sick, including four nurses.
Two patients also tested positive for COVID-19, according to Fraser Health. The epidemic has centered around the hospital’s intensive care unit. The four nurses tested positive worked at the ICU, according to Christine Sorensen, president of the B.C. Union of Nurses.
A number of other hospital staff are also being tested, said Sorensen.
“We are investigating with Fraser Health and Worksafe (BC) why so many healthcare workers were infected at this site – this is of great concern to us,” said Sorensen.
Sorrensen said the union has heard concerns about difficulties accessing personal protective equipment for nurses across the province, including the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
But Fraser Health and British Columbia’s provincial health worker, Dr. Bonnie Henry, firmly denied that there was a shortage of PPE in the hospital.
In an emailed statement to CTV News, Jacqueline Blackwell, director of public affairs for Fraser Health, said there was “no evidence of a break in PPE during patient care that led to this epidemic. “
Henry echoed this comment.
“There has been no shortage of PPE with health workers from these facilities to access what they need to safely care for people with COVID-19 in the ICU,” Henry said in a statement. ‘a press conference on Saturday.
” This is not a problem. “
Personal protective equipment, also known as PPE, includes items such as masks, gloves, protective gowns and face shields, and is vital for anyone working in close contact with susceptible people. to be carriers of the virus.
But the global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means that items are scarce around the world.
“We will be closely monitoring the health authorities and WorksafeBC regarding the personal protective equipment available and their availability,” said Sorensen.
Responding to comments denying any shortage of PPE from Fraser Health and Henry, Sorensen said the union was sticking to its statements.
“If Dr. Bonnie Henry and Fraser Health say that PPE is adequate, then we are questioning the administrative and technical controls put in place to protect staff,” Sorensen wrote in an email to CTV News Vancouver.
“The priority for everyone should be the health and safety of the staff and patients they care for and ensuring that not all health workers are infected with COVID-19.”
Sorensen said she was also concerned that the number of staff who died from the disease would affect staffing levels at the hospital. The nurses who contracted COVID-19 were working in critical care, an area where there is a “desperate need” for nurses at this time, said Sorensen.
Blackwell stated that all staff wore PPE and “took all appropriate precautions in the care areas”. Abbotsford Regional Hospital has no shortage of PPE, according to Fraser Health.
“Preliminary results from our investigation show that vigilance is required in non-patient care areas,” said Blackwell. “Improved strategies have been implemented to reduce risks in these areas.”
Henry said the epidemic at Abbotsford Regional Hospital shows how “wicked” the virus is.
She added that the measures B.C. set out to ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases working to ensure the safety of health workers.
These measures have enabled health workers to put on and remove protective equipment carefully and to ensure that they do not inadvertently become infected with contaminated equipment, said Henry.
With files by Alissa Thibault of CTV News Vancouver.