A COVID-19 testing tent has been set up outside Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

A COVID-19 testing tent has been set up outside Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

Williams Lake hospital shows creativity in the face of COVID-19

Interior Health stated staff capitalized on flood to create negative pressure unit

  • May. 13, 2020 1:45 p.m.

Submitted by Interior Health

When Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and infection prevention lead Kelly Dillon were walking through a partially-remediated area of Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) in Williams Lake earlier this year, inspiration struck.

The two were inspecting an area of the hospital that was already under construction and included ambulatory care, part of patient registration and the cardiology department. The area had been damaged by floods in January, the result of a series of burst pipes due to severe cold temperatures, and a negative pressure system was in place to remove construction dust from the area.

Read More: The doctor is in the house

Due to the construction, the area was already cordoned off and completely separate from the rest of the hospital; the area was fully enclosed and fans were moving air outside as part of the remediation work.

At that time, the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning and hospitals had been asked to postpone surgeries and prepare for what could be an increase in patients who were ill due to COVID-19. Dr. Scrooby and Kelly immediately saw an opportunity to create a protected patient care area that would help limit the virus from spreading throughout the rest of the hospital.

“We went down together to have a look at the repairs and, when we walked through the space, we realized it had the potential to become a negative pressure space without having to do too much work,” says Dr. Scrooby, who inquired of the contractors if the negative pressure system could remain in place.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake created a negative pressure area to allow staff to treat patients with COVID-19.

“From there the idea grew and we worked with our team at CMH and the contractor to make a few more improvements so we would be ready for potential COVID-19 patients.”

“Our departments had already been juggled around because of the flood repairs,” says Thalia Vesterback, CMH Director of Clinical Operations. “The silver lining was we had already looked at space utilization and that space that was under construction in our pandemic planning. It was a perfect solution to use the space that was being remediated due to the floods.”

* * *

During a particularly frigid cold snap in January, CMH was hit by a series of burst pipes and the hospital was thrown for a loop with its main, emergency and temporary public entrance all having to close down during the same week.

Temperatures had plunged below minus-30 C. Pipes were failing and water leaked throughout the hospital. The main water system to CMH had to be shut down. A few services became unavailable but, through it all, patient care wasn’t impacted.

“We had five separate pipes burst over a week and it kind of became like Groundhog Day, with staff responding all over again every day, in all of the different units,” says Thalia. “It really did bring everyone in the building together and there was just exceptional teamwork from all of our staff and physicians.”

Once the temperatures rose above normal, it was time for remediation work to begin. A large area was hoarded off as a restoration company worked to repair areas that were damaged. As repairs were nearing completion, hoarding remained up and a negative pressure system was in place to protect staff and patients from any construction dust. It was then that the province was hit with the COVID-19 crisis.

Enter Dr. Scrooby and Kelly Dillon’s light-bulb moment. When the contractor returned to CMH to complete the restoration work, a few tweaks were made to the area. Two separate staff entrances were established where physicians and nursing staff could enter and don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and then exit when treatment was complete. Patients would also have a separate entrance, maintaining isolation protocols during the COVID-19 crisis.

Read More: Extreme cold bursts water pipe, closes emergency and main entrance to Cariboo Memorial Hospital

“We are eternally grateful for all of the team players that made this happen,” says Dr. Scrooby. “It’s very comforting to treat patients that are very sick in the unit because we know we are limiting the exposure risk. With the staff and physicians wearing the proper PPE, we are protected, and so are the staff and the patients that are admitted into the regular hospital. I want to extend my gratitude to everyone for all of their hard work. We are serving a large rural community so it’s a bit challenging at times, but this has gone a long way in helping us if we have an outbreak to deal with.”

“This is just one more example of how amazing our health-care team is at Cariboo Memorial,” adds Kelly. “We work hard every day and it shows.”

Thalia echoed both of those comments, heartened by the way everyone pulled together, not only at the start of the COVID-19 response, but to the flooding earlier in the year as well.

“I think everybody has been fabulous, they have been amazing,” she says. “Everyone just pulled together. It started with the flooding and people chipping in and asking ‘how do we do this?’ Everyone was willing to come together and discuss solutions to the problem. It was a lot of effort from so many people and it really ended up being a great thing.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A pedestrian looks over a vigil set up in Nelson on Friday to mark National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which is held Dec. 6 to commemorate the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre that killed 14 women and injured 10 others. Photo: Tyler Harper
Demand for safe space increases in the fall at Nelson’s transition house

The eight-bed service for women and children fleeing domestic violence has been full since Oct. 1

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

Interior Health says Salmo’s COVID-19 cases have been contained. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Interior Health: Salmo’s COVID-19 cases are contained

Every person who tested positive has recovered

Pitchfork Eatery’s staff pose with its two Burger Month trophies. L-R: Tao Measures, Michael Hall, head chef Josh Mateschitz, Prabh Gill, John Rutherford, Ben Handly. Photo: Laura Gellatly
Pitchfork Eatery, Kurama Sushi voted Burger Month winners

Pitchfork won two awards while Kurama won Most Original

Nelson schools have stopped recycling anything except cardboard because they are unable to separate recycling to the satisfaction of Waste Management Inc., the contractor that picks up and ships recycling. Photo: School District 8
Nelson schools cut back on recycling

Recycling pick-up contractor says there is too much contamination in the bins

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

Most Read