Hôtel-Dieu Grace physician being tested for COVID-19

Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare president and CEO Janice Kaffer, March 12, 2020. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

As a precaution, over a dozen staff members at Windsor’s Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) have been sent home after a physician had developed symptoms similar to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Officials at the hospital said they learned Thursday morning that the physician had developed the symptoms while on vacation. Janice Kaffer, president and CEO of HDGH, told reporters Thursday afternoon that the doctor is only affiliated with HDGH.

“This physician was only here at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and in our affiliated programs,” said Kaffer. “The physician travelled to an area of the world that is not under the travel advisory. This individual was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.”

The unnamed physician reported for work on Monday and has since developed symptoms that have worsened. The doctor, who works in the psychiatry department at the Prince Road campus, is now self-isolated at home with family.

However, it was learned that this hospital employee came into direct contact with 22 other staff members while at the facility. As a precaution, those 22 staff members have been instructed to remain at home in self-isolation. A total of eight patients were in direct contact with the physician and they have been notified as well.

The physician is currently working with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to be tested, however, the results cannot be confirmed for a minimum of 24 hours.

The health unit, meanwhile, has emphasized that as of Thursday evening, there are no presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Windsor and Essex County. A media conference was called by the WECHU later Thursday evening, after HDGH gave its information, to clarify its procedure on the reporting of any potential cases. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health, said the WECHU’s biggest concern is patient confidentiality, and that they want to avoid giving out misleading information.

“We want to make sure that this type of messaging will come from us,” said Ahmed. “We are testing individuals every day. So, we don’t follow up with all of those and we don’t report back to the media every day, respecting individuals’ privacy.”

Ahmed said as of Thursday, 50 individuals were tested for COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex. All of them have come back negative, but Ahmed did say there were nine cases of self-isolation the health unit was aware of. Still, Ahmed pointed out that as it had always been, the health unit is the first point of information on confirming any cases of COVID-19.

As part of a preplanned response, HDGH will be taking steps to protect staff, patients and visitors starting on Friday. Entry points to the main campus will be limited to the main entrances at Emara and the Tayfour Building. As well, anyone entering the hospital will be questioned about travel history and possible symptoms.

Visiting hours will also be restricted from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and no visitors under 18 years of age will be permitted.

-With files from Mark Brown

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, speaks with reporters on March 12, 2020. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, speaks with reporters on March 12, 2020. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.