Niagara hospital will not re-open beds to fight superbug outbreak

The Welland Tribune reports that the Niagara Health System hospital is "struggling with a lack of patient beds as it tries to isolate patients with the infectious C. Difficile disease." Nevertheless, the Niagara Health System has no plans of reopening recently closed hospital beds to help deal with its current superbug outbreaks.   

Justifying, this position, the NHS interim CEO Sue Matthews said  "We will not be going and knocking on the Ministry (of Health and Long-Term Care's) door asking for more money, more money. We have lots of tough decisions that obviously have been made and need to be made. We will continue to work within our finances that we have."

The NHS has closed many hospital beds through the implementation of its so-called "hospital improvement plan". Ontario Hospitals, under intense funding pressure, closed over 600 beds in 2010.

As reported in an earlier note, the British Medical Association has identified high bed occupancy  as associated with higher rates of superbug infections. Indeed, it noted problems at bed occupancy levels much lower than those found in Ontario.  

More positively, every facility run by the Niagara Health System will be cleansed "from top to bottom" with a powerful agent designed to kill C. difficile spores, officials told the St. Catharines Standard Tuesday.

A virox "rescue gel" will be used in all hospitals. Patients will be temporarily moved out of their rooms and everything inside from wheelchairs to walls will be cleaned with the agent, in a bid to eliminate the potential spread of the bacteria.

Using the rescue gel for a one-time, system-wide cleanse was a recommendation made by a team of inspectors from Public Health Ontario.

Reportedly, some C. difficile bacteria is protected in a spore that allows it to survive in otherwise hostile environments.The spores can also survive on furniture and other areas and can be spread on the hands of people. The use of the Virox gel is an attempt to kill any spores that might be lurking in the hospitals.

The NHS reports that 17 C. difficile patients have died during the outbreaks.  Here, as with other hospitals, it remains unclear how many have died outside any officially declared outbreak. 

Following a spike in C. difficile cases,  Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has now declared an outbreak at the Guelph General hospital. 

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