WECHU investigating clusters of COVID-19 cases at hospitals

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reports that they are investigating clusters of cases at Windsor Regional Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

Cluster reported at Windsor Regional Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is investigating a cluster of cases at Windsor Regional Hospital Ouellette Campus and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) says it is investigating a cluster of cases at both Windsor Regional Hospital Ouellette campus and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

"The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is working closely with hospital administrators to determine the source of transmission and the potential risk to staff and patients," Dr. Wajid Ahmed, WECHU medical officer of health, said in a statement.

The health unit gave few details about the clusters.

"Due to privacy considerations, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is unable to disclose publicly any further details about the cases or the number of close contacts at the hospitals," Ahmed added.

In a news release, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) said the hospital has fewer than 20 confirmed cases and/or cases under investigation by the WECHU. The affected unit was not identified.

 "All patients on the affected unit are being tested. All staff who have worked on the affected unit during the timeframe under investigation will be offered testing," the statement reads. "HDGH is cooperating with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and is taking this most recent development very seriously."

The statement said HDGH would be taking additional measures in response to the cluster, including, "closing the affected unit to any new admissions, enhanced cleaning on the affected unit,  temporarily suspending Designated Care Partners Visitation program on the affected unit and reinforcing the importance of the use of personal protective equipment and consistent washing of hands and respecting of physical distancing across the campus."

In an interview on CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive, WRH chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad told host Chris dela Torre that from his understanding, one patient and three to four staff have tested positive.

"What makes this case unique is they all worked in the same unit, and we're investigating to see if they could be connected or not," he said.

He added that it's unknown right now whether the infections were contracted outside or inside the hospital — and that that would be important to determine in the investigation.

"We're hoping we don't run into a situation where the transmission is happening within the hospital," he said.

LISTEN | Hear more from Dr. Saad on the outbreak at the hospital and Windsor-Essex's rising cases:

Windsor Regional Hospital is seeing a cluster of cases currently being investigated, and it comes as the region is pushed into the province's red zone. Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre speaks with Dr. Wassim Saad, chief of staff at Windsor Regional Hospital. 8:46

WRH also acknowledged the cluster in a news release.

"At WRH, any admissions to the 7th floor (East and West) at Ouellette Campus will be examined closely and patients cannot be transferred out unless discharged home or for medical necessity," it said.

"Testing for COVID-19 on all patients from this floor will be completed by the end of today on Friday, November 27th, 2020."

"All staff who had contact with this 7th floor (East and West) from November 18, 2020 to [Friday], have been notified and are being requested to be swabbed for COVID-19," it added.

WRH said it will suspend all visitation to the 7th floor East and West until further notice.

The cluster of cases comes as WECHU reported 51 new cases of COVID-19 in the region Friday. It also announced that the region would be moving into the red or "control" level of Ontario's COVID-19 response framework Monday. That means new restrictions on dining, gyms and social gatherings among other areas. 

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