toronto western hospital covid

Toronto hospital sees its fifth COVID-19 outbreak in less than a month

One of Toronto's busiest downtown hospitals has now announced the fifth COVID-19 outbreak in its wards in a matter of weeks.

Toronto Western Hospital, a University Health Network facility at Dundas and Bathurst Streets, has just announced that five frontline workers in its emergency department have tested positive for the communicable disease.

This is on top of the at least 65 who were previously announced to be ill with the virus across five other units (many of whom are already recovered and two of whom died), which started on April 18 when a resident who was admitted for a non-COVID-19-related issue became infected.

According to UHN, 97 of its staff members out of 3,743 tested have been confirmed to have the 2019 novel coronavirus, and this is the first instance of an outbreak in an emergency room in the city, the Star reports.

All ER staff at Toronto Western will now have to be tested, and those who worked in the unit anytime from April 20 to May 3 will have their tests expedited, according to a letter sent to employees on May 13.

Access to the ER has been restricted as a result, and additional measures are being taken, like the addition of personal protective equipment (PPE) coaches to ensure staff are properly suiting up — and also properly removing contaminated apparel afterwards. 

The hospital has already ramped up cleaning and sanitation, redesigned spaces like its lunchroom to allow for adequate social distancing, implemented a universal masking policy, and other efforts to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

A novel coronavirus incident in an Ontario hospital is considered an outbreak if there are at least two new cases (either patients or staff) within a two week timeframe, both of which "reasonably" could have been contracted in the facility.

But, as infectious disease expert Dr. Janine McCready told the Star earlier this week, "Hospitals are still safe places and just because they've called an outbreak, doesn't mean that the hospital is overrun with COVID.”

So far, there have been 73 outbreaks in hospital settings in the province — more than 12 currently active in Toronto hospitals — adding up to 294 infected patients and 319 infected staff members. There have also been 256 outbreaks within long-term care homes and another 100 in retirement homes.

Lead photo by

Nephron


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