COVID-19 OUTBREAK INFORMATION
At Halton Healthcare our top priority is the safety of our patients, people and the communities we serve. Halton Healthcare remains vigilant and is continuously preparing measures to respond to cases of infection and outbreaks. Declaring an outbreak allows us to put additional measures in place in order to prevent further transmission of the virus.
What is a COVID-19 Outbreak?
The definition of a COVID-19 outbreak in a hospital is set by the Ontario Ministry of Health. A COVID-19 outbreak is declared when two or more patients and/or staff within a specified area (unit/floor/service) with confirmed COVID-19 have been identified within a 14 day period, where both cases could have reasonably acquired* the infection in the hospital.
What Does “Reasonably having acquired an infection in hospital” Mean?
‘Reasonably having acquired an infection in hospital’ means that the patient had no known source of infection outside of the hospital. When patients have been admitted less than 14 days and test positive, it is always uncertain where they may have acquired COVID-19. Similarly, there is often uncertainty on whether staff have acquired it at work or in the community where the virus is circulating.
At Halton Healthcare, our standard practice is to include all cases where we feel it could be reasonably acquired in the hospital and implement appropriate control measures.
Who Declares an Outbreak?
An outbreak is a joint decision made by the Halton Healthcare team and Halton Public Health and is based on guidelines set by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
What Steps Does Halton Healthcare Take to Address an Outbreak?
When an outbreak is declared enhanced control measures are implemented to prevent further transmission among patients and staff. This includes:
- Communication with patients, families, staff, physicians and volunteers
- Thorough and enhanced ongoing cleaning
- Testing of all patients and staff on the affected unit
- Contact tracing for possible exposure of patients and staff
- Closure of unit to new admissions and transfers
- Reinforcement and audit of infection prevention and control practices including the use of personal protective equipment
- A review of all processes
As Part of Our Pandemic Response Action Plan We Have Implemented A Number Of Initiatives Including:
- Enhanced screening for all individuals entering our hospital, including staff
- COVID-19 Assessment Centres as well as Vaccination Centres
- Adoption of Public Health Ontario guidelines for potential COVID-19 patients
- Designated units for COVID-19 patients
- Internal field hospitals at our OTMH and MDH hospitals
- Continued health care worker education and demonstrations for appropriately using personal protective equipment throughout the pandemic
Does Halton Healthcare See New Patients During An Outbreak?
Our hospitals remain open and continue to be a safe place to receive care.