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St. Joseph’s Hospital staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Concerns have been raised regarding how the case was communicated with family members of patients

THUNDER BAY - A staff member at St. Joseph’s Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19.

There are no details on when the staff member tested positive, but hospital officials say they have been in touch with families of patients.

“There has been communication with all families whose loved ones are on enhanced precautions, but clearly we could have done better in responding,” said a spokesperson with St. Joseph’s Care Group in a statement.

St. Joseph’s Care Group, in collaboration with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, is investigating and acting on potential contacts.

“Together, contact tracing is performed – that’s where, through interviews, screening, and documentation, movement and potential contacts are identified – and a risk assessment to determine the level of exposure is conducted,” the statement reads.  

“Clients and substitute decision makers are notified if/when there is a risk of contact, and advised of any precautions being put in place to keep their loved one safe including why the precautions are being taken.  We will always act with an abundance of caution, and even when probability of exposure is considered low, we would still isolate and swab inpatient clients."

There is no provincial directive requiring asymptotic surveillance testing of staff or essential visitors in hospitals.

Staff are required to practice self-screening for symptoms, visitor restrictions are in place and all visitors must pass active screening.

A family member of a patient in the hospital raised concerns about not requirements for visitors being tested and screening for staff. Other concerns were brought forward about how the organization communicated with family members.

“We have heard the concerns of the families loud and clear, and are in the process of reviewing the visitor restrictions in place at St. Joseph’s Hospital to determine if there is anything different that can be done to allow loved ones to continue to visit in person even when enhanced precautions are in place,” the statement reads. 

“A decision is expected later today.”