Montreal

Lakeshore Hospital struggles to contain COVID-19 outbreak

Montreal health officials are scrambling to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Lakeshore Hospital in Montreal's West Island after 15 patients in hospital for other health issues became infected.

So far,15 patients have contracted disease despite being on ward isolated from those with coronavirus

The situation at the Lakeshore Hospital follows outbreaks at other Montreal hospitals, including Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Santa-Cabrini and Sacré-Coeur. (David Gentile/Radio-Canada)

Montreal health officials are scrambling to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Lakeshore Hospital in Montreal's West Island after 15 patients in hospital for other health issues became infected.

A spokesperson for the regional health agency, the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, confirmed the outbreak on Wednesday evening. Patients on the hospital's fourth floor have contracted the disease, despite the fact that COVID-19 patients are isolated from the rest of the hospital.

"We have a team on site that is currently reorganizing the containment areas," said Guillaume Bérubé.

"Although the hospital's occupancy rate is currently over 100%, the emergency situation is not critical at this time. However, we are monitoring the situation closely."

Infectious disease protocols dictate placing patients in "hot zones" if they have the disease and "cold zones" if they don't.

Johanne Riendeau, president of the local union representing medical professionals, said hospital staff have been moving between those hot and cold zones, likely spreading the coronavirus.

The Lakeshore Hospital in Pointe-Claire is designated to treat COVID-19 patients, and a total of 79 infected patients are there.

The hospital emergency room is operating at 10 per cent above capacity. That's not considered critical, Bérubé said, but the situation is being monitored closely.

The CIUSSS expects the mobile medical facility set up by the Red Cross in a LaSalle arena will help relieve the pressure on Lakeshore. 

Red Cross volunteer Stéphane Corbeil walks through a mobile hospital at the Jacques Lemaire arena in LaSalle. The mobile hospital may soon be accepting patients from Lakeshore Hospital. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

One of several hospitals with outbreaks

The outbreak at the Lakeshore is just the latest to be reported in hospitals on the island of Montreal, following outbreaks at Verdun, Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Santa-Cabrini and Sacré-Coeur.

Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital in Montreal's east end has been overwhelmed by the disease, prompting doctors to cancel all surgeries requiring hospitalization this week.

In total, eight out of Maisonneuve-Rosemont's main 12 wards are dealing with outbreaks, and in response, the hospital stopped accepting patients for a period of 24 hours.

Last week, an outbreak at another COVID-19-dedicated hospital, Sacré-Coeur, swept through the oncology and hemodialysis wards, infecting at least 120 patients in all. At least two patients have died due to complications from the virus. 

Outside of Montreal, the long-term care wing at Jeffery Hale Hospital in Quebec City has also been dealing with an outbreak declared at the end of March. That outbreak has already claimed the lives of 27 patients, and public health officials say they're not sure why the virus continues to spread.

The hospital outbreaks are in addition to the troubling situation in long-term care homes across the province that has led to the infection of more than 6,000 vulnerable residents, and hundreds of deaths.

Crippling staff shortages in those homes and the health network as a whole have only added to the problem. There were more than 10,000 health-care workers absent on Tuesday alone, according to figures provided by the Health Ministry.

Yet Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said Wednesday that the situation appears to be improving.

"I think, by the end of the week, probably, we will confirm that the number of deaths per day is going down significantly," he said.

About the Author

Kate McKenna is a reporter with CBC Montreal. Email her at kate.mckenna@cbc.ca.

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