Union pens terse letter defending Vegreville nurses
The union representing Alberta nurses wants a medical health officer to correct what they call misinformation surrounding the sterilization scare and superbug outbreak at the Vegreville hospital.
In a tersely worded letter to Dr. Gerhard Benadé, United Nurses of Alberta vice-president Bev Dick wrote that there was no breakdown in infection control at the St. Joseph's hospital and the two dozen nurses who work there are bearing the brunt of the facility's health scare.
"The situation hasbeen blown way out of proportion and the facts have not been presented properly," she said Monday.
The province took over control of the facility nearly two weeks ago after Benadé, the medical officer of health for East Central Health, shut down the sterilization room and closed the hospital to acute care admissions, citing an outbreak of MRSA and problems sterilizing hospital equipment.
Dick said there isn't enough evidence to support either claim, but media coverage has the community blaming the nurses.
"One of our nurses has even had a death threat. Their children have been harassed at school about this."
'We're not pointing out any one group'
The medical officer of health has not responded to the nurses' letter.
Jim Durham, spokesman for the East Central Health, said it's an unfortunate situation, but officials have not blamed anyone in particular.
"We're not pointing out any one group. All we're concerned about are the procedures that are carried out at the hospital and the way that they're carried out. And they were not carried out up to the standards that are generally accepted."
All staff members at the hospital support what's being done to get St. Joseph'sready to start admitting patients again, he said.
Dick defends hospital procedures
In her letter, Dick wrote that four out of seven cases of MRSA at the 25-bed hospital were people who already had the bug when they were admitted and the hospital had no patients with MRSA by the time the situation was made public.
No human tissue was found on equipment used in the hospital and no one in the last year became ill directlybecause of so-called poorly sterilized equipment, she wrote.
"The sterilization procedure at St. Joseph's was followed as per protocol, and as per the manufacturers' instructions. The test indicators were properly indicating sterility. There were no documented instances of failure of sterility."
Meanwhile, the provincial NDP has started a petition demanding a public inquiry into the hospital scare.
"This is an opportunity to give a voice to Albertans who are concerned and who are dissatisfied with the government inaction," said leader Brian Mason.
The Health Quality Council of Alberta,the group that will be looking into the troubles at the hospital, has put together its investigation team.