Four patients treated at the oncology unit of CHUS Fleurimont in Sherbrooke have died since May 20, not of cancer, but of COVID-19.
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Healthcare workers could be the cause of the outbreak, which affected 16 patients and 7 employees. Five of them were not vaccinated according to the head of the hematology-oncology department of the CHUS, Dr Michel Pavic.
He and 14 other doctors from the CHUS denounced this situation in a letter addressed to the Minister of Health.
“We are afraid that it will happen again in other services in the province,” he explained. It can’t be the patients who brought the virus in; they were all tested before entering the so-called sanctuary unit, which is an ultra-protected unit. ”
While patients need to be screened, this is not the case for employees who work in oncology. They are not included in the ministerial decree of the government which obliges the nursing staff of a unit to undergo preventive tests three times a week.
Nonsense according to Dr. Pavic, since the patients in this unit, although vaccinated, are fragile and vulnerable.
“We thought that this decree was addressed to our unit, but we learned that it was not. That there were only a few services involved such as intensive care, emergencies, pneumology, etc. Hemato-oncology has been forgotten or not prioritized, ”he lamented.
The CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS is unable to say what proportion of staff in oncology units are vaccinated. The only vaccination rates compiled are those of the employees covered by the ministerial order.
We therefore know, for example, that 96.5% of the employees of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS emergency departments are vaccinated, against 92% in intensive care.
These departments are however suffering the repercussions of the outbreak.
It is for this reason that the pulmonologist and intensivist of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS, Dr. Yannick Poulin, welcomes this exit of these colleagues.
“We receive patients who have been infected nosocomially in oncology, we have received several patients in intensive care and we have lost some who should never have been infected,” he denounced.