TORONTO -- The death of a patient at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket is putting Ontario's hospitals and long-term care facilities on high alert, says the union representing 30,000 Ontario hospital workers and 5,000 hospital cleaning staff.
"Clostridium difficile, which is responsible for 79 deaths in Montreal
and 10 in Calgary, has the potential to sweep through Ontario's hospital
system," says Michael Hurley, president of CUPE's Ontario Council of Hospital
Unions. "The infection control system failures highlighted by SARS have not
been significantly corrected and no additional resources have been dedicated
to hospital cleaning. During the SARS crisis, the organism lived on an
unwashed surface in a hospital for 30 days, before spreading to a patient who
then transferred to another facility. Action must be taken now."
"Fifteen years of cuts to hospital cleaning budgets have left many
institutions unable to eliminate virulent organisms like C difficile," says
Hurley. And these cuts are compounded by multiple patient transfers between
institutions and the huge numbers of part-time hospital staff, forced to work
at multiple institutions to make a living."
Hurley added, "We are calling on the Minister of Health to dedicate additional special
resources to bolster cleaning in hospitals and long-term care facilities. And
we are asking him to convene an urgent meeting of facility managers, public
health officials, physicians and the unions representing hospital and long-
term care institutional staff to prepare strategies to prevent the spread of
Source: Ontario Council of Hospital Unions