Steinbach's Bethesda Hospital is reporting a VRE outbreak in the medicine unit at the hospital. Facility Manager Patti Fries explains VRE stands for Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci. She says "what that means is that it's a bacteria that's found in the bowel of healthy people and usually doesn't cause any illness. Usually this type of a bacteria is treated with the antibiotic Vancomycin, however when the Vancomycin can no longer kill Enterococci, that means that the antibiotics have become resistant and that's how we get the name Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci."
Several Winnipeg hospitals have been battling the same outbreak the last eighteen months. Fries says "the outbreak was declared on August 8th but the initial case was discovered in July. And it was discovered with a direct transfer to Bethesda from a Winnipeg hospital that was currently undergoing a VRE outbreak." To date a total of fifteen patients at Bethesda have tested positive for the virus. Fries says as of today, only five patients remain. She notes "that means that ten have either been discharged or they show negative now."
Fries says "everything is under control by the fact that we've taken many precautions. All the suspects have been placed on contact precautions which is the use of gloves and gowns for all patient contact when you're admitted to the unit."
In order to stop the spread, Fries says hand hygiene becomes extremely important. "In addition we have ensured that people who have been positive, stay with other positive patients, as well as those that are suspects stay with suspect patients so that we try to sort of isolate these patients to help decrease any type of spread. And of course there's been increased beefing up of housekeeping services so there's a lot of increased cleaning so that the patient environment is as enhanced as it can be. Then there are general precautions for the family and visitors, there's signs on all of the doors and as you enter the unit, reminders that good hand washing is extremely important, to use the alcohol based hand rub and that obviously anybody who's going to see patients are using gloves and gowns." These Manitoba Health guidelines are expected to be in place for the next couple of weeks.