PEI

Contingency plans would see emergency room services move at QEH

Health officials have plans to move emergency department services within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital if the COVID-19 outbreak reported at the facility makes such a move necessary, according to P.E.I.'s health minister.

PC MLA asks about use of other hospitals if QEH outbreaks continues

Hundreds of staff and ER patients at QEH are being tested for COVID-19 after one patient and one health-care worker tested positive over the weekend. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Health officials have plans to move emergency department services within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital if the COVID-19 outbreak reported at the facility makes such a move necessary, according to P.E.I.'s health minister.

"Health PEI does have protocols in place for just such an emergency," Health Minister James Aylward told the legislature Tuesday.

"There's other assets, other locations within the QEH that they would be able to transition to."

Hundreds of staff and ER patients at QEH are being tested for COVID-19 after one patient and one health-care worker tested positive over the weekend.

The health-care worker, a man in his 40s, initially tested negative for the coronavirus, showed no symptoms, and worked seven shifts at the hospital between July 4 and 11. He was tested Sunday and results came back positive Sunday evening. 

Health Minister James Aylward says the lab at the QEH follows strict protocols and will be safe. (Ken Linton/CBC)

The QEH is the province's main acute care facility and houses the province's testing laboratory for COVID-19.

The situation at QEH and contingency plans were the subject of question period exchanges in the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday.

Montague-Kilmuir MLA Cory Deagle wanted to know if other hospitals in the province have the ability to "fill this gap" if emergency department services at QEH were disrupted.

I feel very confident that our lab would remain secure and all protocols that are required are in place to protect our lab.— Health Minister James Aylward

"I know these are unpleasant scenarios and we hope they never come to pass," said Deagle. "But the events of the last few days serve as a stark reminder that we have to be ready."

The health minister told the legislative assembly that the QEH could move its emergency department to another part of the hospital facility.

He also told the assembly the testing lab at QEH is safe, having toured the facility last year.

"Extreme, strict protocols just to enter that facility are second to none," said Aylward.

"I feel very confident that our lab would remain secure and all protocols that are required are in place to protect our lab."

Aylward called closure of the emergency department at QEH due to COVID-19 a "very unlikely event."

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