News » Sea to Sky

Squamish General Hospital closed to new admissions

Norovirus outbreak means new patients will be taken to other hospitals



The emergency room at Squamish General Hospital (SGH) is still open along with the lab and x-ray area but the rest of the hospital is off limits.

A gastrointestinal illness spread through the regional health care facility and on Friday, Dec. 14 the manager of acute care services in the Sea to Sky corridor, Cindy Sellers, sent a memo to doctors and facility staff indicating patients face potential diversion as no new admissions were being accepted until further notice. The outbreak of a gastrointestinal virus prompted Sellers to send out the memo.

“There will not be any admissions to Squamish General Hospital until further notice,” Sellers wrote in her memo.

Anna Marie D'Angelo, a media relations officer with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), said the containment protocols at the hospital will be maintained until 12 infected people at the facility are symptom-free for 48 hours. She said the patients suffering with the symptoms are being kept together as they recover. The group is made up of patients and hospital staff members.

“The emergency department is open so people can go there,” said D’Angelo from her office in Vancouver. “The urgent emergent cases will be transferred to other hospitals.”

She said by taking new patients to other hospitals it prevents incoming patients from also picking up the virus.

“Norovirus is circulating right now at this time of year and what happens is hospitals start reflecting what’s happening in the community,” D’Angelo said. “People in the hospital are obviously ill and can’t tolerate having the flu. We just need to contain it.”

As part of the containment initiative, D’Angelo said housekeeping services have been increased.

“Frequent hand washing is the most effective way of preventing the spread of the virus,” said the media relations office.

She added that anyone with flu symptoms is discouraged from coming to the hospital.

According to information from the Provincial Infection Control Network of B.C., transmission of GI infections usually results from contact with infected people, food, water, or beverages. The illness can also be picked up through exposure to contaminated objects or surfaces. In extreme cases, outbreaks can lead to death.

Regular hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of Norovirus. Vancouver Coast Health has published a 10-step hand washing guide for preventing the spread of disease. Hand washing should take at least 30 seconds.

1. Wet hands with warm water.
2. Apply soap.
3. Lather soap and rub hands palm to palm.
4. Rub in between and around fingers.
5. Rub back of each hand with palm of other hand.
6. Rub fingertips of each hand in opposite palm.
7. Rub each thumb clasped in opposite hand.
8. Rinse thoroughly under running water.
9. Pat hands dry with paper towel.
10. Turn off water using paper towel.