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CHEO Taking Steps to Improve Infection Control
OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario today announced a series of steps to stop an outbreak of the Rotavirus on one of its patient care units and to further strengthen its Infection Prevention and Control Program.
Rotavirus is the single leading cause of severe diarrhea in young children. By the age of five, nearly every child in the world has been infected with rotavirus at least once. However, it can lead to rapid and severe dehydration, particularly for children who are already in weak health. Rotavirus is a very difficult organism to control since it can live on surfaces for up to 60 days and contact with a very small amount of the virus causes an infection, making it extremely contagious.

CHEO has six new cases of rotavirus on one patient care unit which has also had several other instances of Rotavirus since January. Rotavirus may also have further compromised the health of one fragile infant who passed away.

CHEO is committed to patient safety and is aligning all possible resources to stopping the transmission of rotavirus and preventing any further infection.

Strict outbreak measures in place and increased environmental cleaning regimens are being incorporated. We have begun by closing that ward to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection of all individual and shared equipment and spaces.

In addition, a senior team has met to discuss what further measures will be required. A detailed focus will be put on environment services; hand hygiene for staff, physicians and families; unit procedures, including the use of shared equipment; policies, including bed assignment; and the design of the unit itself.

These steps follow other recent additions to CHEO’s Infection Prevention and Control program. Despite severe cost containment measures made necessary by the shortfall in funding received this year, CHEO has recently added some additional staffing and begun the implementation of several new initiatives, including:
  • Consolidation of a specially-trained Outbreak Team that is on stand-by for immediate response to any healthcare associated outbreak.
  • Funding for 24/7 dedicated cleaning coverage for the emergency room, with automatic provisions available for any public health outbreaks and during the flu season. In addition, another dedicated person has been added for the cleaning of toys and books, and more frequent cleaning schedules for public bathrooms.
  • Additional hand hygiene stations were added, enabling staff to be able to more quickly access cleaning products, a revised hand hygiene policy was issued, and staff re-training initiated.
  • Ordering of additional equipment to reduce use of shared equipment .
“CHEO is a safe hospital and every effort is made to ensure our patients receive the safest and best possible care,” said Michel Bilodeau, President and Chief Executive Officer, CHEO. “But clearly we need to do more. We must do more, and we will do more.”

CHEO is pleased to participate in the Ontario government program to report on key patient safety indicators. Today, hospitals in Ontario began the reporting of hand hygiene compliance. CHEO results indicates that hand cleaning took place in 21% of instances before contact with either the patient or the patient environment, and 43% after contact.

“Hand hygiene is an important practice for health care providers in reducing the spread of infections,” said Bilodeau. “While hand cleaning is something staff certainly does all the time, we know our rates are not yet good enough. Public reporting is a helpful measure to ensure care becomes even safer and CHEO. And we are absolutely committed to that."
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