There are now 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to the outbreak at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation and carry out prevalence testing of both patients and staff,” read a statement provided from Alberta Health Services (AHS).
“If there are no further positive patient cases, we anticipate being able to lift the outbreak next week.”
AHS says it has been necessary to implement a number of temporary measures at the site as they worked to respond to a “very fluid situation.”
Those measures included temporarily pausing new acute care admissions. Acute care admissions of COVID-19 positive patients resumed last week.
AHS stated the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre has not been designated as a COVID-19 only facility.
“Between the fluctuating number of COVID-19 positive inpatients who require acute care, coupled with staffing challenges and cramped infrastructure, we have been unable to cohort all COVID-19 patients to a single unit.
“When we are unable to cohort staff and/or patients, preventing the spread of illness becomes additionally challenging. By diverting non-COVID-19 patients to alternative sites, we can protect them from acquiring the virus in hospital.”
There is not an assisted self-isolation unit at the hospital. Once patients are stable and well enough to be discharged, if they can safely and appropriately self-isolate at home, AHS works to support them in doing so.
If a patient cannot safely and appropriately self-isolate at home upon discharge, there are alternative spaces available within the Central Zone to support them in non-hospital settings.
The outbreak was declared on Dec. 9.
By Dec. 11, there were three confirmed cases linked to the outbreak, all of which were in patients.
That number reached eight cases (six patients and two healthcare workers) by Dec. 17.
The next day that number dropped to just four (two patients and two healthcare workers).
Transmissions continued to occur, however, as there were nine staff and five patients positive for COVID-19 as of Dec. 29.
Vaccinations are underway for eligible staff in the Emergency Department, as well as long-term care and Home Care staff.
Vaccinations for continuing care residents, including those in long-term care at the hospital, is also underway in the community.