COVID-19 Cases – Update from SLMHC
As previously announced, SLMHC has seen a recent cluster of positive COVID-19 test results. Early last week, three patients were admitted to hospital for other reasons and tested positive for the virus. This testing was completed as part of our hospital protocol prior to procedures and/or transfer of these patients to other health facilities. Additionally, in the same timeframe we became aware of a positive result among our staff. All protocols for isolation and contact tracing were implemented.
In response to these results, SLMHC introduced a surveillance testing program for staff and physicians who do not exhibit symptoms. Any staff and physicians who have symptoms follow an immediate in-hospital protocol which includes isolating at home, contacting our staff health nurse, and making arrangements to be tested.
At end of day, June 22, 2020, as a result of the surveillance testing that began on Thursday, June 18, 2020, 241 staff and physicians have been tested. Of these tests, the results include 6 positive results, 149 negative and 86 pending results that are expected to be received tomorrow.
“Despite the risk of transmission from asymptomatic positives being low compared to those with symptoms, contact tracing has been promptly initiated to determine if the virus has spread further,” says Dr. John Guilfoyle, Public Health Physician, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.
When it comes to ongoing testing and surveillance, we are actively testing all inpatients at the hospital site, and have been actively surveilling our residents and staff at the William A. George Extended Care Facility where we have had no positives cases.
“We recognize that these new cases of COVID-19 create concern among the residents of the communities we serve, and we wish to remind everyone that SLMHC has been prepared for COVID-19 since March and we have a pandemic plan in place which has been guiding us for several months,” says Heather Lee, President and CEO of SLMHC. “Since implementing the pandemic plan, all staff and physicians are mandated to wear face masks throughout their shift, all non-essential travel outside of northwestern Ontario was restricted, visitor/escort restrictions continue to be in place, and screening for all staff and anyone entering the facility is being completed at the entrance.”
We are working closely with Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority’s (SLFNHA) Preventing Infectious Disease program to update the public and ensure public safety as further results come in. As always, we are conscientious of providing accurate information while also protecting health information and respecting confidentiality, as per Ontario’s privacy legislation.
“We are very grateful to our partners at the NWHU and SLFNHA who are working hand-in-hand with us to navigate this situation, and as we work to complete our individual mandates. We want to reassure the public and our communities, both locally and in the north, that our highest priority is the safety of all patients, staff and physicians.”
With the confirmed positive cases, the NWHU is conducting external contact tracing and case management, and SLMHC’s Infection Control department is handling internal contact tracing. Staff, physicians, patients, family members and friends who have been in contact with those testing positive will be notified quickly. SLMHC is also working closely with SLFNHA to keep the leadership and residents of the First Nation communities we serve informed, especially about services at our facilities.
This is an integral time for the community of Sioux Lookout, and all of the communities in our region, to be vigilant and continue following provincial guidelines. We remind everyone to follow recommendations from the NWHU and SLFNHA, and the rest of our public health officials. This includes practicing physical distancing, wearing masks when physical distancing is not possible, and practicing good hand hygiene.
The Sioux Lookout Assessment Centre offers testing for anyone who is concerned they have COVID-19. Appointments can be made by calling 737-5880. The centre is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Due to a high volume of calls, we ask that you leave a message with your name and number and one of our staff will call you back to arrange an appointment.
We understand that social media sites and other information venues often become active prior to official results being communicated, however we ask that you only share confirmed information from trusted sources. We encourage everyone looking for more information on how our services and facilities are impacted to visit our website at www.slmhc.on.ca/covid19. For information about COVID-19 in our region, including prevention advice and statistics on current confirmed cases, visit www.nwhu.on.ca or www.slfnha.com.