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1 death, 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as outbreaks declared at Calgary’s Foothills hospital,,on September 21, 2020 at 2:35 pm
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1 death, 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as outbreaks declared at Calgary’s Foothills hospital,,on September 21, 2020 at 2:35 pm

One patient has died and 14 other patients and four staff members have tested positive amid COVID-19 outbreaks at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, according to Alberta Health Services.

Fifty-seven staff are currently in isolation, AHS announced on Monday afternoon.

AHS said two cardiac units and a general medicine unit are affected.

Nick Etches, lead medical officer of health for AHS in the Calgary Zone, said at an afternoon news conference that the first case of COVID-19 was detected in one of the cardiac units on Friday and the first case in the general unit was found the next day.

The cardiac units account for 12 of the cases, while the general unit has two.

“We have no evidence the two outbreaks are connected at this time,” said Etches, pointing out that the virus is still circulating in the community and the hospital continues to treat patients with COVID-19.

He said AHS continues to investigate how the virus entered the units and that the health authority is aggressively managing the situation.

The statement from AHS said there is no increased risk to patients coming to Foothills. Anyone who tests positive is being isolated and treated in designated rooms, AHS said.

AHS said all at-risk patients are being offered testing and contact tracing for anyone who may have been in contact with infected individuals is ongoing.

“While we appreciate it may be difficult for some, visitors to the units are limited to only end of life situations until further notice,” AHS said in a statement.

Patient’s family complains they’re not being informed

Michelle Cairnsmith says her father is in one of the affected cardiac units and has tested positive.

She says her mother found out there were possible cases on Saturday when she called the unit and was told she couldn’t visit.

Her 82-year-old father, who has congestive heart failure and cancer of the bladder, was tested that day. The family found out that an outbreak had been confirmed at the hospital by reading the news.

Cairnsmith, who is now in isolation pending her own test results, says she’s frustrated.

“We’re directly involved with this patient and we’re being given no update,” she said.

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Carinsmith says she had been worried for her father throughout the pandemic, given his ongoing heart illness, and had developed plans with the family to protect him. She said they stayed away at first, then when they decided it was safe to visit, they maintained distance.

“Because if he got it, it’s his death sentence. He’s done. He’s 100 per cent done,” she said.

Community infections

Craig Jenne, an immunologist and microbiologist at the University of Calgary, said he’s not surprised to hear there are cases at the Foothills.

“What we do know that as the number of cases go up in the community, it is going to become increasingly more difficult to keep the virus out of specific environments, whether it be a hospital, a school or a long-term care facility,” he said.

Jenne says the best way to prevent outbreaks in hospitals is to keep the number of infections low in the broader community.

“As the numbers go up, we probably will see restrictions on visitors and entry into areas where there are susceptible patients,” he said.

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