File photo by ADVOCATE staff Alberta Health Services says enhanced visitor restrictions will be put in place at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre due to a “COVID-19 outbreak impacting two units” and a rise in the demands for services due to the virus.

COVID-19 ‘outbreak impacting two units’ of Red Deer hospital: Alberta Health Services

Visitor restrictions at the Red Deer Regional Hospital to protect patients, staff and physicians

There are visitor restrictions at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre due to a “COVID-19 outbreak impacting two units,” Alberta Health Services said Friday.

Due to the outbreak, in addition to a “significant rise in the demands for services due to the virus,” Alberta Health Services will restrict visitors at the facility to protect patients, staff and physicians, an AHS press release said.

These restrictions are being taken after two positive cases of COVID-19 connected to two units at the site were identified — the first case confirmed on July 16 and the second on July 21 — and as the site continues to see an increase in patients with high acuity who require the specialized care only the Red Deer hospital provides in the central zone.

Beginning Friday, visitors will only be permitted in end-of-life situations, when accompanying pediatric patients or for those patients with cognitive or mobility impairments.

“We are taking this situation extremely seriously and have taken swift action,” said Kimberly Storey, AHS senior operating officer for the facility.

“Restricting visitors is not a decision we’ve made lightly. We recognize the benefit to our patients when they’re able to have friends and family come visit them.

“This is a necessary step to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our facility, and to keep our patients and health-care providers safe.”

Contact tracing is ongoing to identity all individuals who have had close contact with the two confirmed cases, and all patients and staff on those two units are being swabbed and tested. Risk to patients, physicians and staff is minimal, says AHS.

The hospital remains open and all services are operational, says AHS.

While the visitor restrictions are in place, one designated family/support person may accompany a patient who is under 18, and in situations where a patient has cognitive or mobility restrictions.

Screeners will greet all designated family/support persons, conduct health screenings and verify that the people are authorized to enter the site.

Workplace health and safety and infection prevention and control teams are working closely with facility leadership and the central zone medical officers of health to ensure the hospital remains safe, says AHS.

A number of protocols are in place to minimize the risk of spread, including enhanced environmental cleaning, ensuring continuous masking practices are being followed, and ensuring proper usage of personal protective equipment.

“Our teams are taking every possible step to respond with compassion to this challenging situation and to ensure a safe environment for care,” said facility medical director Dr. Michael Mulholland.

“We have robust response plans in place to mitigate outbreak situations when they occur, and we’re collaborating with teams across the zone to ensure we continue to have capacity to care for those who need our services.”

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