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Task force to investigate Misericordia Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Click to play video 'Task force to investigate Misericordia Hospital COVID-19 outbreak after 6 deaths' Task force to investigate Misericordia Hospital COVID-19 outbreak after 6 deaths
A formal task force has been set up to investigate the COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton's Misericordia Hospital, where six people have died and dozens more been infected as of Thursday. Quinn Ohler has the latest.

Editor’s note: One day after this story was published, Alberta Health reported that one death at the Misericordia Hospital was recategorized and that COVID-19 was not a contributing factor in the death. The death toll at the hospital linked to the COVID-19 outbreak sat at five as of Friday, July 10, 2020. This story has been updated to reflect the change.

Alberta Health said it will form a task force to investigate the COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital.

Alberta Health Services announced the task force Thursday, when it was reported that there had been six deaths linked to the outbreak at the hospital. However, on Friday, Alberta Health said one of the deaths had been reclassified and COVID-19 was not a factor.

This brings the death toll related to the coronavirus outbreak at the Misericordia to five.

“On behalf of the entire Covenant family, we offer our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the … people who have died in connection to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Misericordia Community Hospital,” Covenant Health’s Patrick Dumelie and Ed Stelmach said in a joint statement on the Covenant Health website Thursday.

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“We pray that they will be comforted by memories of meaningful moments together and that the love of those around them will provide peace and comfort during this difficult time. Each of these people were defined by relationships, stories and experiences which added to the richness of the lives of their loved ones and to our community more broadly. We honour their contributions and the impact of their lives that continues on. We are deeply saddened by their loss.”

Read more: Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital on ‘full facility outbreak’ due to COVID-19

The first case of COVID-19 related to the outbreak was identified at the Misericordia on June 21, according to Alberta Health Services.

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As of Thursday afternoon, there are 16 patients at the hospital who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in relation to the outbreak. In addition, 16 staff members have tested positive, an increase of one case since yesterday, according to Covenant Health — the organization that operates the hospital.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a post on social media that he and Alberta Health are closely monitoring the situation at the Misericordia.

“I have full confidence in the measures Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health have in place to prevent further spread,” Shandro said on Twitter.

“Clinical teams are taking every possible step to protect patients, staff and physicians.”

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Read more: Edmonton zone COVID-19 deaths climb to 19 as Alberta announces 37 more coronavirus cases

Shandro maintained that “our hospitals remain safe, and this outbreak is being managed as safely and effectively as possible.

“I know the physicians, staff and volunteers at the Misericordia are working extremely hard in challenging circumstances, and I thank them for the care they’re providing.”

Click to play video 'Misericordia Hospital stops accepting patients due to ‘full facility’ COVID-19 outbreak' Misericordia Hospital stops accepting patients due to ‘full facility’ COVID-19 outbreak
Misericordia Hospital stops accepting patients due to ‘full facility’ COVID-19 outbreak

On Wednesday, the hospital was put on a “full facility outbreak,” which means no new patients will be admitted to the hospital and day procedures and visits will be postponed or rescheduled at another Edmonton hospital. This includes the emergency department.

Patients should not visit the Misericordia, and should instead visit another hospital or call 911 if needed.

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Read more: Alberta doctors warn some COVID-19 patients may see long-term health impacts

AHS said it will now set up a formal outbreak investigation task force, in partnership with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Covenant Health. The task force will further support the ongoing investigation and management of the outbreak. It will include representation from infection prevention and control, workplace health and safety, public health and frontline clinicians.

Covenant Health said it continues to work with the office of the chief medical officer of health and AHS to ensure its hospital is safe. The organization said it is following protocols to minimize the risk of spread, which includes:

  • Thorough environmental cleaning with hospital grade disinfectants
  • Ensuring proper usage of PPE, including donning and doffing
  • Ensuring proper physical distancing on units and common areas
  • Ensuring proper hand hygiene practices are being followed

On Thursday, Alberta recorded an additional 37 new cases of COVID-19 and the three deaths linked to the Misericordia outbreak. The provincial death toll due to COVID-19 is now at 160 people.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 584 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, including 215 in the Edmonton zone.

For up-to-date stories on the outbreak at the Misericordia Hospital, click here.

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