Patient dies of C. difficile in Cape Breton
88-year-old woman infected three times since May: family
A Nova Scotia man whose mother died after contracting a hospital-acquired infection says the Cape Breton Regional Hospital needs to clean up its act before more people die.
Clostridium difficile has been determined as a contributing factor in the death of Julia Young, 88.
Young was admitted to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in May after suffering a stroke.
Brian Young, her son, told CBC News it was not the first time his mother had contracted C. difficile while at the hospital.
"The first time was the deadly Quebec strain, but she survived that. She was strong enough to overcome that and survived it. But then they gave it to her again and this time it was just too much," he said Friday.
"With her stroke and with all the other things piled on top of it, it was just too much for her. That's really what did her in, in the end, was the C. difficile."
Julia Young was a former nurse and hairdresser who was active and well known in her community.
She's the fifth person with C. difficile to die during the current outbreak, which has so far affected two units at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
Brian Young said someone in the hospital brought the infection into his mother's room.
"That is an infection that staff brings to you. She was paralyzed in the bed. She couldn't roam around, room to room. Go from bed to bed and spot to spot to pick it up. Somebody had to bring it to her," he told CBC News.
"That was very, very difficult to see that happen not only once — gave it to her again and again."
C. difficile bacteria causes diarrhea and abdominal pain. It can be life-threatening for those taking antibiotics or who have serious pre-existing health issues.
Infections are known to occur in hospitals and nursing homes.
'It's killing people'
Young, a former Progressive Conservative MLA who represented Cape Breton North, said the hospital may be doing the best it can to stop the spread, but it's not good enough.
"It's killing people. You would think that the minister and the department, seeing this happen, would say, 'Let's send a task force in. Let's send some expert help in,'" he said.
"They obviously need it. They're trying their best but it's not working."
Greg Boone, a spokesman for the Cape Breton District Health Authority, said the hospital is getting outside help from federal and provincial health agencies.
"We've also been fortunate to have the expertise of infection and prevention control practitioners who come from other districts across the province, who are coming in on a weekly and daily basis," he said Friday.
There are still five patients with C. difficile in hospital.
Boone said C. difficile was not the direct cause of Julia Young's death, but that it was a contributing factor.
Brian Young said he's not convinced.
"If she didn't have C. difficile, she'd still be alive," he said.