British Columbia

Surgeries postponed due to gastrointestinal illness outbreak at Kamloops medical facilities

A gastrointestinal illness outbreak has hit the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, as well as several other local health facilities, postponing 20 surgeries so far and halting patient admissions to three medical units.

Interior Health says 20 operations have been postponed so far.

Interior Health says it is working with physicians in Kamloops to ensure they have the support they need for an increased number of maternity patients coming from the Cariboo. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

A gastrointestinal illness outbreak has hit the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, as well as several other local health facilities, postponing 20 surgeries so far and halting patient admissions to three medical units.

Thirteen surgeries were cancelled Thursday and seven have already been cancelled for Friday to ensure there are beds available for emergencies.

Interior Health said the hospital normally conducts 35 to 40 operations per day.

"It's not unexpected that we would see something like this in the hospital because these outbreaks happen all the time in the community," said Susan Duncan with Interior Health.

"Of course when you've got people coming into the hospital from the community, they're bringing bugs with them."

Possibly norovirus

​Duncan said that a number of specimens have tested positive for norovirus.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes a fever.

"[This] is not a flu. Influenza is something completely different. A gastrointestinal illness is a virus that upsets your stomach," she told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce. 

Virus spreading

Currently, 30 patients and 24 staff have been affected at the hospital and at the Hillside Psychiatric Centre next door said Duncan.

Since the stomach bug first broke out at the hospital on Sunday, two other medical facilities in Kamloops have also posted outbreak alerts for a gastrointestinal illness. 

"I advise people to call before visiting and not go in with any symptoms," said Duncan.

Waiting it out

Duncan said patients who are in the wards where the outbreak is happening will not be transferred until the outbreak is over.

"There is no hard and fast rule on when the outbreak will be declared over," said Duncan. 

However, she said it typically takes 96 hours.

She recommends people don't visit the hospital if they are sick and clean their hands often. 

"That's the key to preventing the virus or reducing its spread."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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