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Infection control is paramount in preventing the spread of COVID-19

Dr. Gordon Dow, Horizon Health Network’s Regional Infectious Diseases Medical Director at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital

Infection control is the only tool in our toolbox to prevent the spread of coronavirus in our communities. This virus spreads by contact (things you touch) and by droplets (sneezes or coughs). With that in mind, there are very simple measures you can take to prevent infecting yourself, your family, your friends and your community.

First, practice good public health habits:

  • only leave the home when necessary,
  • avoid all mass gatherings,
  • never leave the house while quarantined; and
  • never leave the house if you’re sick.

Second, practice good personal habits:

  • wash your hands often,
  • cough into a tissue or into your elbow,
  • don’t touch your face,
  • stay two metres or six feet from anybody around you; and
  • clean surfaces that are touched frequently with household cleaner.

During this outbreak, Horizon has implemented many precautionary measures at all its facilities to help prevent the spread of this virus. 

COVID-19 Assessment Centres have been set up in Moncton, Saint John, Miramichi, Fredericton and Upper River Valley to safely test people for this virus. This allows for patients to be tested outside of the Emergency Department and reduces the likelihood of transmitting it to another patient. These assessment centres are accessed by calling Tele-Care 811 or your family doctor. They are not walk-in clinics and appointments must be scheduled.

Environmental services and housekeeping are performed at a very high level in Horizon facilities and are audited regularly. Enhanced cleaning by our Environmental Services department has now been undertaken – it is pivotal to preventing transmission of infection in hospital. This virus can live on porous surfaces for up to one day, and non-porous surfaces for up to three days.

Horizon facilities have restricted visitation except under very specific circumstances. All patients, visitors, employees and physicians are stopped to answer a series of questions upon entry. Depending on their responses, they may be allowed to enter, or they will be asked to leave. 

It is more important than ever that people not enter Emergency Departments unless it is a serious problem – especially if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The majority of patients with COVID-19 will not require hospitalization. If you’re not sure whether your symptoms are considered serious, please use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool on the Government of New Brunswick public health website. Remember, if it’s extremely serious, you should call 911 or come straight to the Emergency Department, and if possible, we ask that you call ahead so our team can prepare for your arrival.

We have a dedicated and well-trained COVID-19 team who will care for admitted patients with respiratory infection. There is a dedicated ward for COVID-19 patients and we have planned for the increased demand for intensive care beds.

To ensure the best use of our resources to deal with COVID-19, all elective surgeries have been discontinued, the ambulatory care department has been restricted to urgent cases only and laboratory testing has been rationed.

All these measures are designed to make sure that our patients continue to receive the best possible care and our employees and other patients are protected from infection leading to COVID-19.

Each of us has a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19. By diligently following these infection control guidelines, you’re doing your part in helping to flatten the curve.

For accurate information please refer to Horizon Health Network, the Government of New Brunswick, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.