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3 more healthcare workers test positive for COVID-19 in Foothills outbreak

Click to play video 'Hinshaw announces 29 patients, 3 deaths associated with Foothills hospital COVID-19 outbreak' Hinshaw announces 29 patients, 3 deaths associated with Foothills hospital COVID-19 outbreak
Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides an update on the COVID-19 outbreak and processes in place at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. – Sep 24, 2020

Three more healthcare workers at the Foothills Medical Centre have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 12 staff cases linked to two outbreaks of the virus.

An additional 17 patients have fallen ill with the virus, and three others have died. Alberta Health Services didn’t report any additional deaths or patient cases linked to the outbreak on Thursday.

Read more: Coronavirus: 3rd patient dies, patient screening increased amid Foothills hospital outbreaks

The outbreaks, which are on two cardiac units and one general medicine unit, were first announced over the weekend. No more units have been affected, AHS said, and officials still haven’t found any evidence to link the two.

Since then, visitors on the units have been restricted to end-of-life situations only, and staff and patient screening has ramped up on all of the units.

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Dr. John Conly, medical director of infection prevention and control at the hospital, said officials are still trying to determine where the outbreak started, adding that the investigation into that source is “very complex.”

Click to play video 'No determination of causes of COVID-19 at Foothills hospital despite reports: Hinshaw' No determination of causes of COVID-19 at Foothills hospital despite reports: Hinshaw
No determination of causes of COVID-19 at Foothills hospital despite reports: Hinshaw – Sep 21, 2020

Another 119 staff members were in isolation as of Thursday, monitoring for symptoms after being exposed to the virus.

Read more: 2nd person dies, 2 more patients confirmed to have COVID-19 linked to Foothills outbreaks

Conly said the quarantining staff puts a “strain” on staff, but said the Foothills is still a safe place to go for treatment, adding that AHS is managing the situation and ensured there are no critical, or safety, issues related to the staffing levels.

Wayne Stopa, vice-president of United Nurses Union Local 115, which represents staff at the Foothills Medical Centre, said they’ve been getting a lot of calls from members who have said they have been asked to extend shifts or work many shifts in a row to fill the shortages.

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Stopa said nurses have been working short-staffed for many years, and situations like this put an extra stress on the employees.

“There’s a lot of people that have been asked to fill in a lot of gaps, and they’re going to get tired too,” he said.

Conly said more than 300 tests have been done since the outbreaks were declared, both on staff and patients who were believed to have been exposed to the virus.

In a media update on Thursday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said officials are still working to determine how the virus got into the hospital and how it spread, as well as identifying any other people who need to be contacted and told to isolate and go for a coronavirus test.