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2 visitors to Foothills hospital confirmed to have COVID-19 linked to outbreaks

Click to play video 'Calgary’s Foothills hospital limits visitors, postpones surgeries due to COVID-19 outbreaks' Calgary’s Foothills hospital limits visitors, postpones surgeries due to COVID-19 outbreaks
Alberta Health Services announced some major changes to operations at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary as it works to contain COVID-19 outbreaks. As Lauren Pullen reports, visitation is now limited and some surgeries have been postponed – Sep 28, 2020

Editor’s note: Alberta Health Services originally said that 39 surgeries were postponed on Monday, Sept. 28. On Thursday, Oct. 1, the health authority said it was actually 36. This story has been updated to reflect the correction. 

Two visitors to the Foothills Medical Centre have tested positive for COVID-19 and Alberta Health Services said Tuesday the cases are linked to the outbreaks at the hospital.

As of Tuesday, five units in the hospital had outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, and three units were on outbreak watch.

AHS did not say when the visitors were at the hospital, or which unit they visited, but said they were in contact with patients known to be linked to the outbreaks. The visitors have been contacted and told to self-isolate, according to AHS.

Read more: Surgeries postponed, visitors restricted as COVID-19 outbreak grows at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre

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Five more patients also tested positive as of Tuesday, for a total of 31. Four patients have died as a result of the outbreaks, though AHS would not specify what unit they were being treated on when they contracted the virus.

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The number of staff who are confirmed to have COVID-19 in relation to the outbreaks remained at 27. However, an additional 154 staff members were in isolation, for a total of 290.

Nine more surgeries scheduled for Tuesday were cancelled, AHS said, in addition to the 36 that were cancelled on Monday.

“The decision to postpone additional surgeries will be made on a daily basis going forward and will be dependent on staff availability,” AHS said. “Emergency surgeries will continue.”

Visitations have also been restricted across the entire hospital, not just the units with outbreaks or on watch, meaning visitors are only permitted in end-of-life situations or if the visitor is essential to a patient’s care.

Click to play video '1 new death as Foothills hospital outbreak grows to 53 cases' 1 new death as Foothills hospital outbreak grows to 53 cases
1 new death as Foothills hospital outbreak grows to 53 cases – Sep 28, 2020

The first outbreak in the cardiac units of the hospital was declared on Sept. 19. Since then, a total of five outbreaks have been confirmed, though AHS could not say on Monday whether they were connected.

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“Multiple teams are working daily to determine where the infection may have started, how it was transmitted and who needs to be contacted and tested to limit exposure,” AHS said. “This is standard procedure in our contact tracing that we implement with any outbreak.”

Read more: Family of man admitted to Foothills hospital during COVID-19 outbreak says they weren’t told ‘entire story’

AHS said the hospital remained a safe place to visit and come for treatment.

“All of the services usually offered at the Foothills Medical Centre remain in place and we are working hard to ensure the availability of specialized and staff physicians to continue to provide these services,” the health authority said.