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Coronavirus: Misericordia Community Hospital begins phased reopening after outbreak declared over

Edmonton's Misericordia Community Hospital.
Edmonton's Misericordia Community Hospital. Paul Rampersaud/Global News

After a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton at the end of June, Alberta Health Services announced on Friday the hospital would begin a phased reopening.

The hospital no longer appeared on Alberta Heath’s list of active outbreaks as of Friday.

Read more: Coronavirus: Where Alberta’s COVID-19 outbreaks are

That afternoon, the emergency department and labour and delivery services began a phased reopening of scheduled ambulatory appointments and surgical procedures.

Click to play video 'New death linked to Misericordia outbreak as hospital reaches one month mark of being closed' New death linked to Misericordia outbreak as hospital reaches one month mark of being closed
New death linked to Misericordia outbreak as hospital reaches one month mark of being closed

The hospital closed to incoming patients on July 8 as part of the facility’s response to the outbreak. There have been no new COVID-19 cases linked to the hospital’s outbreak since July 17.

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“With an abundance of caution and nearly a month without a new case linked to the initial outbreak, we are confident the site is ready to begin accepting incoming patients to a safe environment of care,” Dr. David Zygun, medical director for Edmonton zone said in a news release.

Read more: No new COVID-19 cases linked to Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital since July 17

Medicine and other inpatient units at the hospital will also begin to accept incoming patients.

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Patients who had appointments and surgeries postponed will be contacted to reschedule.

“Our focus continues to be on the safety of our patients, staff, physicians and visitors in the facility,” said Owen Heisler, chief medical officer with Covenant Health. “We are extremely grateful for our hard-working and dedicated physicians and staff who cared for patients and each other during the outbreak, both at the Misericordia or through redeployment throughout the zone.”

READ MORE: Alberta reports another death linked to COVID-19 along with 84 new cases Friday 

But the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the union that represents certain health-care workers in Alberta, says the plan from AHS and Covenant Health doesn’t do enough.

“I think everyone is glad to see the situation has improved at the Misericordia,” AUPE vice-president and licensed practical nurse Susan Slade said in a news release.

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“However, the plan to return to normal after this outbreak is rushed and does not do enough to ensure staff and patient health and safety.”

The main concern the union has is that staff will not be tested at the Misericordia for COVID-19 and will have to book their own testing off site.

“You would think that testing on-site would be a hugely important part of helping a hospital recover from an outbreak like this,” Slade said. “But AHS and Covenant Health are crossing their fingers and hoping asymptomatic staff just aren’t sick.”

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Health Matters: Baby boom at Edmonton maternity wards

The news release from AHS didn’t specify how Misercordia staff would be tested, but said it wanted to “assure Albertans the facility is safe for new admissions.”

The AUPE also points to the fact that visitors will once again be allowed in the hospital as being a risk. Hospitals across the province have numerous protocols in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, including screening, limitations on the number of visitors and mandatory mask wearing.

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The outbreak was declared at the Misericordia on June 23 as the hospital saw 45 new cases of the novel coronavirus. The first death linked to the outbreak was recorded on June 25. In total, 58 cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths were linked to the outbreak.