Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is currently experiencing an outbreak of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). As always, patient safety is our top priority and we want to ensure that our patients and their families continue to receive the best care possible.
“VRE is not a threat to most people, however there is a possibility that some patients, especially those with already weakened immune systems, will experience infection,” said Dr. Greg Gamble, a physician at our Hospital who specializes in infectious diseases. “Our main focus during periods of outbreak is to protect our patients and their families by containing the spread of bacteria.”
VRE are a type of bacteria that have developed resistance to many antibiotics, especially vancomycin. They live on the skin or in the intestines, usually without causing any problems. However, they can lead to serious infections, especially among people who are already ill or weak. Infection can occur anywhere in the body, but common sites include the intestines, urinary tract and wounds.
Patients are being closely monitored, and those who do contract VRE can be treated with antibiotics that are not resistant to the bacteria.
“VRE outbreaks are common occurrences and are not unique to our Hospital. We are familiar with the bacteria and know how to address the problem,” said Dr. Gamble. “Our priority is the safety of our patients and their families, staff and visitors. We’ve put some precautionary restrictions in place in order to reduce the spread of infection.”
Care Partners are always welcome at our Hospital. Patients may continue to have visitors, with the following limitations:
These limitations are anticipated to be in place for approximately three weeks.
To prevent getting and spreading infections, the Hospital reminds people to wash their hands often, for at least 15 seconds with soap and warm water, or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We also recommend that people stay home and avoid visits to the Hospital, or any other health care facility, if experiencing any signs of gastrointestinal illness (e.g. diarrhea).