Healthcare workers and all 44 patients currently receiving treatment at Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Central Saanich are being tested after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Tuesday.
“It’s not clear that this is a spread within the hospital but it’s not definitive that it’s not, and based on the number of patients we have it seems likely there is some sort of spread within the hospital but our testing will help us to know that,” said Elin Bjarnason, vice-president of clinic operations South Island for Island Health.
Five patients and one staff member at the hospital have tested positive over the past two days and the outbreak is spread across three units including palliative care, but not including long-term care.
Health officials say they can’t figure out how they might be connected since they haven’t all had contact with each other.
The emergency room remains open and Island Health is reassuring people that all patients currently in the hospital are being protected.
“We’re not concerned that our staff will be giving COVID to patients today, our staff are on high alert, we have vigorous PPE protocols and our infection prevention control team is at the site,” said Bjarnason.
Another outbreak at West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni is contained to one unit and just one health care worker and one patient have tested positive so far.
“All nine patients on that unit were tested and I’m happy to report I’ve just heard in the last hour they’re all COVID negative so that’s very positive,” said Bjarnason Wednesday afternoon.
Charles Jansen was a little nervous going to the hospital for care Tuesday but said everything felt under control.
“They made me feel really confident . . . it’s a scary time but I know everyone’s doing the best they can do,” he said.
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions says with the hospital, a long-term care home and multiple schools and business exposures, the community needs to be on alert.
“I think people being aware of how much COVID is actually around us is incredibly important and we just want to make sure our community remains diligent,” she said.
Minions said she still hopes people will seek care at the hospital if they need it.
“It’s very important to us that we don’t see people pulling back on getting emergency health care when needed so the hospital is being very clear it is contained to one wing and we want to make sure people still feel confident going there,” she said.
Testing results for all patients at Saanich Peninsula hospital are expected by Wednesday evening or Thursday. Those patients who have tested positive so far have either been transferred to the COVID care centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital or have gone home to isolate.
Meanwhile, the one patient at West Coast General hospital that tested positive has been transferred to the COVID care centre at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.