Calgary

2nd patient dies as Foothills hospital outbreaks grow to 22 cases

Two patients have died, and 14 other patients and six staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 as outbreaks continue to spread at Foothills hospital in Calgary.

A total of 88 staff members are now in isolation

A third patient has died as a result of two outbreaks of COVID-19 at Foothills Medical Centre in northwest Calgary. (CBC)

Two patients have died, and 14 other patients and six staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 as outbreaks continue to spread at Foothills hospital in Calgary.

A total of 88 staff members are now in isolation, Alberta Health Services said Tuesday. But the hospital remains fully staffed as it uses overtime and reassignments to cover shifts as needed.

Alberta Health said the outbreak is currently the largest in the province.

Two cardiac units and the hospital's general unit are affected. The first case in one of the hospital's cardiac units was detected Friday, and a case in the general unit was detected the next day.

On Monday, an AHS spokesperson said there was no evidence the outbreaks were connected.

AHS said in addition to enhanced screening, cleaning and restricted visitation on the affected units, the hospital has set up multiple sites for increased testing capacity for staff on outbreak units.

Any patient with symptoms or who has tested positive is being isolated and treated in designated rooms.

It continues to be safe to visit and receive care at the hospital, AHS said, but anyone who is exhibiting symptoms should not visit a hospital. 

Dr. Glen Sumner, a clinical associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Calgary and a cardiologist at Foothills hospital, said he doesn't want to see a repeat of earlier in the pandemic when people avoided hospitals despite being very sick with heart problems. 

"Precautions can be taken to protect individuals from the virus, especially if we are in the midst of an outbreak. And that protection will be given to every person that comes into the hospital with a cardiac condition," he said.

He said the hospital outbreaks are of major concern, especially as cardiac patients are at higher risk.

"The hospital administration and staff at the hospital have made every effort to prevent outbreaks from occurring. But in the face of a pandemic, despite the screening, we don't pick up all individuals who carry the virus," he said.

AHS continues to investigate how the virus entered the units.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 1,565 active cases of COVID-19 across Alberta, 485 of whom are in Calgary. Of the 51 people being treated in hospital across the province, nine are in intensive care.

With files from Jennifer Lee

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