Press Releases

Friday, January 11, 2013

Precautionary visitor restrictions put in place at Health Sciences Centre's and St. Boniface Hospital's children's and women's units

Steps being taken to reduce further spread of influenza and other respiratory and influenza-like illness among infants and children pediatric patients

Visitors to patients at Health Sciences Centre's Children's Hospital including the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Neonatal and Intermediate Intensive Care Units (NICU, IMCN, MS3) and St. Boniface Hospital's NICU are being restricted to parents only in order to reduce the risk of more infants being exposed to respiratory infections currently circulating in the community. The same restrictions are being put in place for both hospitals' labour, delivery and post-partum units.

"We believe we are going to continue to see an increase in these types of cases, which are already resulting in heavy patient volumes and extremely high occupancy rates at both sites," Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, Medical Director of the WRHA Child Health Program said. "It is important we take whatever steps possible to reduce further spread of the illness."

The Intermediate Nursery at Health Sciences Centre currently is also experiencing a respiratory outbreak with one confirmed case of influenza A. In order to reduce the risk of other infants being exposed to that virus, the Health Sciences Centre is closing that ward to further admissions and opened a temporary 14- bed unit yesterday in another section of the hospital.

"The children who are there have already been exposed and so will remain in the nursery until they are discharged," Dr. Rockman-Greenberg explained, adding all the babies are stable. "Any new admissions will be admitted to the new ward.

"It's important we put these measures in place so that those who do need to be here know they can come and continue to get the expert care they need in a safe environment."

Five pediatric patients are also currently in isolation in Children's after potentially being exposed to chicken pox from a visitor who had not yet been diagnosed. Infection Prevent & Control practices mandate that these children, who - while suffering from other illnesses and conditions - have not developed any sign of infection, remain separate from other patients for approximately two weeks.

The Region has informed Northwestern Ontario of the situation and is encouraging them to send babies who need extra care to facilities in Eastern Ontario unless that would pose a serious risk to the patient.

Arlene Wilgosh, President & CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority praised the health care professionals who have been handling the situation. "Our doctors, nurses, other health care professionals and support staff have been working non-stop to manage this situation while continuing to provide the best care to their patients. I know their ongoing efforts and commitment are appreciated, especially by the parents and families of the affected children."

Members of the public, especially parents of young children, are being asked to do their part to reduce further spread of the disease by:

  • Covering their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze or cough or sneeze into their upper sleeve;not their hands
  • Frequently washing their hands and keeping their hands away from their face;
  • Keeping infants and small children away from public places to reduce risk of exposure to viral illnesses when possible; and
  • Getting their flu shot, currently available at the offices of family physicians, at QuickCare clinics and ACCESS Centres.

For more information contact:
Heidi Graham
Director, Media Relations
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
204.926.7178

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