St Mary's Hospital. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
NEW RESTRICTIONS have been put in place at St Mary's Hospital to deal with what the Isle of Wight NHS has described as the serious challenges it faces following an outbreak of norovirus.
In a statement issued today (Wednesday), a spokesman said around a fifth of the 236 beds at the hospital had been affected and all in-patient operations, except those for cancer, have been cancelled this week as a result.
Sarah Johnston, Deputy Director of Nursing said: "To enable us to get this nasty bug under control we have had to take a further step to restrict visiting and to create additional capacity to manage the situation we have had to cancel all non-urgent in-patient operations.
"I recognise that these new measures and the ones already in place are causing considerable inconvenience for patients and visitors but it is essential that we get this under control.
"We are grateful for everyone’s co-operation."
The hospital has introduced the following new measures:
• All visiting to the main hospital (not just to the wards closed to new admissions) is restricted to essential visiting only and a time (not necessarily between 2pm and 3pm) to visit must be agreed with the Ward Manager. Wards should be contacted via the Hospital Switchboard.
• All scheduled in-patient operations, apart from those for cancer, have been cancelled until the end of this week. The operations will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
Other restrictions remain in place:
• Access to the main hospital for patients and visitors is only via the main entrance. It is therefore better to park closer to the main entrance if you have mobility issues or arrange to be dropped at the main entrance before cars are parked.
• Visitors and patients are asked to ensure they cleanse their hands on entering and leaving the hospital and entering and leaving clinical areas.
• No more than two visitors per patient.
• Children under the age of 16 and elderly or vulnerable adults should not visit unless necessary.
• Anyone who has had symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, must not come into the hospital until they have been clear of those symptoms for at least 48 hours.
• Patients visiting the Beacon Health Centre and Emergency Department should only be accompanied by one other person if possible.
• A spokesman said the trust would like to stress that day surgery, outpatient appointments or clinics remain unaffected and patients should attend as normal but need to be aware of the restriction on accessing the main hospital only via the main entrance.
The main areas affected by the outbreak are:
General Rehabilitation Unit
Stroke Neuro Unit
Medical Assessment Unit (MAU)
St. Helens Ward
The arrangements in place across the hospital mean that all single rooms are in use. Colwell Ward, which was previously closed to new admissions, has been clear of the infection for 72 hours, a spokesman said.
The spokesman added: "It is vital that anyone who is feeling unwell with vomiting and/or diarrhoea, and planning to visit their friend or relative in hospital, nursing or a residential home, stays at home for at least 48 hours after the symptoms stop to avoid the spread of infection.
"Keeping hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids is very important, particularly for the elderly and the very young who are most at risk. If the symptoms persist, telephone NHS 111. Further details of symptoms are available on the NHS Choices website."
Good hand hygiene using soap and water is important during outbreaks of norovirus as it is highly contagious.
Thorough cleaning of hard surfaces with a bleach solution, paying particular attention to the toilet and toilet area, will help to reduce the spread of the virus.