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Multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at Royal Inland Hospital lead to surgery cancellations

Six operating rooms at the Kamloops hospital are closed due to the outbreaks in four units that have so far affected 54 patients and staff
Royal Inland Hospital
Royal Inland Hospital is in downtown Kamloops, at Columbia Street and Third Avenue.

A quartet of concurrent COVID-19 outbreaks has led to the closure of six operating rooms at Royal Inland Hospital.

B.C.’s Health Minister Adrain Dix said three operating rooms remain open at RIH for emergency surgeries, urgent cancer surgeries and urgent C-sections while the outbreaks are ongoing.

“We will resume scheduled surgeries when it is again safe to do so,” Dix said.

He said the closures are meant to help manage the outbreaks, noting RIH is a busy hospital, currently at more than 110 per cent of its bed capacity.

“It’s the reason these measures were put in place. They’re to protect staff, to protect patients and to maintain the highest quality of care,” Dix said.

Between Nov. 7 and Nov. 13, there were 82 postponed scheduled surgeries across Interior Health, which includes Kamloops, due to COVID-19, the vast majority of which were between RIH and Kelowna General Hospital, Dix said.

As of Nov. 17, the four COVID-19 outbreaks at RIH have led to 54 cases:

• Unit 5 South, a medical ward (declared on Nov. 2), has 28 cases: 20 patients and eight staff/other, with two deaths connected to the outbreak;

• Unit 7 North, a renal/cardiac ward (declared on Nov. 8) has five cases: four patients and one staff/other, with one death connected to the outbreak;

• Unit 6 South, a surgical ward (declared on Nov. 13), has 11 patient cases.

• Unit 5 North, a stroke/rehab ward (declared on Nov. 13), has 10 cases: five patients and five staff/other.

The health authority had maintained throughout outbreaks at RIH that it is safe for people to visit patients.

However, that changed on Nov. 10 when Interior Health said only essential visitors for patients are permitted at Royal Inland Hospital.

Interior Health said all services continue to be available at RIH, adding that the hospital remains safe to visit for anyone needing emergency care.

Dix also noted that 150 patients and long-term care residents impacted by flooding around B.C., primarily in the Merritt area, were evacuated on Nov. 15. Interior Health evacuated the Nicola Valley Hospital and Merritt care homes due to flooding compromising that city’s water and wastewater-treatment systems.