(File photo)

(File photo)

Three patients at Ponoka hospital test positive for COVID-19

Visitors to acute care will be allowed for end-of-life situations

An outbreak has been declared at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre.

An outbreak was declared for the acute care unit on Dec. 9, 2020, according to Alberta Health Services’ website (albertahealthservices.ca), which is updated daily.

As of Dec. 11, there are three confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to the outbreak, all of which are in patients.

According to a statement from Alberta Health Services (AHS), there are currently no cases in the long-term care unit at the hospital.

“AHS Public Health is carrying out their robust contract tracing process; potential contacts are being directly contacted to arrange for testing, and provided with guidance for self-isolation as needed to reduce the possibility of spread,” reads the statement.

“Testing for COVID-19 for all acute care patients, staff and physicians is ongoing.

“The site is working closely with the Medical Officer of Health, Workplace Health and Safety and Infection Prevention and Control to ensure the hospital is safe and that all steps are being taken to minimize risk of spread.

“In response to the outbreak and the staffing challenges experienced due to necessary work exclusions, AHS has implemented a number of temporary measures at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre to ensure the safety of patients, residents, staff and physicians. These measures include enhanced cleaning protocols across the facility, temporarily pausing new acute care admissions, temporarily diverting obstetrical patients to Red Deer and restricting visitors in acute care.

“Visitors to acute care will be allowed in end-of-life situations. We encourage all patients and families to stay connected through virtual visits.

“The emergency department remains open and those in need of urgent care will receive it. Patients who require acute care admission will be stabilized and transferred by EMS to nearby facilities for appropriate care.

“We recognize that these temporary measures and not being able to visit loved ones and friends in hospital can be upsetting; however such actions are necessary as we make every effort to ensure the safety of patients, residents, staff and physicians during this time. Such actions also help us to have appropriate resources – including staffing and equipment – in place to care for those in the hospital. These are not decisions we make lightly, or without thorough review with the Medical Officer of Health and clinical leadership.”

Back in July, a Alberta Precision Laboratory (APL) staff member at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. It was a single incident and not considered an outbreak.

READ MORE: AHS confirms Ponoka Hospital staff case

As of Friday, Dec. 11, the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury was still on the outbreak list on alberta.ca for central Alberta.

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