Clostridium difficile Death Puts Hospitals in Ontario on Notice


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

this virus.


Source: Ontario Council of Hospital Unions

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