Visitor restrictions expanded at Ross Memorial in wake of outbreak

By Roderick Benns

The Ross Memorial Hospital has expanded visitor restrictions to include the first floor of the Continuing Care Program after several patients and staff members have become ill with what is suspected to be Norovirus.

Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and headache.

On March 7, an outbreak was declared on the Medical Unit by the RMH Outbreak Team in conjunction with the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit. Today, an outbreak was declared on Continuing Care Program, first floor.

The hospital is taking special measures to control the spread of the illness, including heightened attention to personal protective equipment (PPE) and special cleaning procedures.

Patients will not be admitted to the affected Units, nor will patients be transferred from the Units unless clinically required.

Staff has been in contact with the families of patients in the affected areas to advise them of the visiting restrictions and to encourage them to phone their loved ones, or to email using the Hospital’s email address.

Visiting is still permitted in other areas of the Hospital. All who come to the Hospital are encouraged to clean their hands often, and to avoid visiting if you are feeling unwell. Norovirus has an incubation period of two to three days. People are contagious as long as their symptoms persist.

“We recognize the important role visitors play in our patients’ healing and recovery,” said Anne Overhoff earlier today, vice president patient care and chief nursing officer.

“We regret having to restrict visitors on the medical unit, but it’s important that we prevent the spread of these germs, not only to our patients and staff, but to visitors and the community. By taking these steps, we hope to resolve this outbreak as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we encourage our patients’ loved ones to call or send emails to . The emails are hand delivered every weekday.”

Norovirus has an incubation period of two to three days. People are contagious as long as their symptoms persist.

Signs and symptoms of norovirus infection include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Watery or loose diarrhea
  • Malaise
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle pain

Signs and symptoms usually begin 12 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus and last one to three days.

Methods of transmission include:

  • Eating contaminated food
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Touching your hand to your mouth after it was in contact with a contaminated surface or object
  • Being in close contact with a person who has a norovirus infection

Noroviruses are difficult to eliminate because they can withstand hot and cold temperatures as well as most disinfectants.

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