Brampton hospital worker dies of COVID-19

A health-care worker at Brampton Civic Hospital has died from complications linked to COVID-19. This is the first time an Ontario hospital has confirmed the death of one of its employees amid the pandemic.

First time hospital in Ontario has confirmed death of employee during pandemic

A worker at Brampton Civic Hospital has died after being diagnosed with COVID-19. (Angelina King/CBC)

A 58-year-old health-care worker at Brampton Civic Hospital has died from complications linked to COVID-19, marking the first time an Ontario hospital has confirmed the death of one of its employees amid the pandemic.

William Osler Health System made the announcement Thursday afternoon.

"The health-care worker, a long-time [cleaner] with Osler's Brampton Civic Hospital, was being cared for in Brampton Civic Hospital's intensive care unit," the organization said in a statement. 

"Our entire organization is devastated by this news, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time."

In a news release, Peel region health officials said the Brampton, Ont., man "likely acquired the virus in the community and not at work."

'Premature to speculate' 

But Michael Hurley, president of CUPE's Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, says he does not agree with a suggestion that there is no relationship between the man's death and his employment.

"I would just say it's premature to speculate about that," in light of the greater risks faced by health-care workers, Hurley told CBC News.

"This gentleman was a wonderful co-worker. He was a well-respected colleague. He was much loved by the people who worked with him."

Michael Hurley, president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, wants government to reconsider its advice to health-care workers around how the novel coronavirus is transmitted. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)

He also said the union would like the government to reconsider its advice to health-care workers about how the virus is transmitted.

"We're not saying it is an airborne virus … We're saying you should treat it as though it could be airborne," Hurley said. 

Dr. Lawrence Loh, interim medical officer of health for the Region of Peel, extended his "deepest condolences" to the man's family and co-workers in a statement.

"He played an important role in keeping the health-care system working and we mourn his loss," Loh said.

'Elevated risk' 

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he learned about the death while on his way to deliver cupcakes to hospital workers.

"It's heartbreaking for a community to lose one of our own, someone that was on the front line," Browne told CBC News. "It shows you the elevated risk that health-care workers take on to continue to go to work."

Flags fly at half-mast at Brampton Civic Hospital. (Angelina King/CBC)

In its latest update Thursday, Ontario confirmed 483 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 5,759. CBC News has counted 223 deaths in the province based on data from local public health units.

Some 2,305 cases are considered resolved, or about 40 per cent of Ontario's total COVID-19 cases.

Another 1,208 people are awaiting test results. Of the 632 people hospitalized in Ontario with the virus, 264 are in intensive care units, while 214 are on ventilators.

With files from Angelina King

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