Expanded outbreaks force surgery cancellations at London, Ont.’s University Hospital

MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. — The London Health Sciences Centre now says seven units at University Hospital have been impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks.

On Friday, LHSC said the outbreak in general medicine had expanded again, this time to include 4TU Multi-Organ Transplant Unit and 6IP Cardiovascular Surgery.

The news comes a day after the Middlesex-London Health Unit said an 80-year-old man associated with the outbreaks had died.

The first outbreaks at the hospital were declared Nov. 10 in 4IP General Medicine and Nov. 11 in 9IP Orthopedics.

Since then the outbreak in the general inpatient medicine unit has expanded to five other units, including 6IP Acute/Decant Medicine, 9IP Sub-Acute Medicine, 10IP Palliative Care/Sub-Acute Medicine and the two announced Friday.

The outbreak in orthopedics was declared over by the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) on Thursday, leaving six units with active outbreaks.

LHSC says that as of Friday, there are 26 inpatients and 28 staff with COVID-19. That is an increase in three patients and two staff in the last 24 hours and a rise in 21 cases since Tuesday.

In addition to preventative measures put in place by the MLHU, all non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures at University Hospital are being postponed and officials say patients will be contacted directly.

New measures are also being implemented at both University Hospital and Victoria Hospital including:

  • admission COVID-19 testing for all patients
  • masking of all admitted adult inpatients
  • enhanced surveillance COVID-19 testing for all staff and physicians who provide inpatient care at University Hospital
  • opening 24 beds at Victoria Hospital to provide additional capacity
  • temporarily suspending essential visitors and caregivers at University Hospital (some exceptions)
  • temporarily suspending all student placements at University Hospital 4IP
  • opening additional break room spaces for staff and physicians
  • limiting the movement of staff and physicians between units and hospitals

In a letter to staff obtained by CTV News, LHSC President and CEO Dr. Paul Woods admitted to “a rising sense of apprehension and dread” as the cases continue to rise.

He acknowledged that a message to staff last week caused distress, “My choice to use direct language was not pointed at any person or professional group. It was intended to convey a sense of urgency that I felt and continue to feel the organization must demonstrate. This accountability applies to all of us, from me all the way through the organization.”

But Woods went on to praise health-care workers while also calling on staff and the wider community to follow protocols to protect themselves and others.

“As health-care workers, you are the most treasured resource on the planet in 2020 and without your health and safety, our community will suffer. That is why there is such urgency in ensuring our every action and choice is made with purpose, and not out of fatigue. Quite aside from this, I care about all of you, and about your families and loved ones.”

Woods concluded by expressing his thanks for the work of all of the staff at LHSC.


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