Ridge Meadows Hospital. (THE NEWS/files)

Ridge Meadows Hospital. (THE NEWS/files)

Woman says multiple patients at Ridge Meadows Hospital had COVID-19

Fraser Health says the definition of an outbreak has changed since start of pandemic

A Maple Ridge woman who contracted COVID-19 while in Ridge Meadows Hospital says there was a cluster of cases there.

Denise Brownsdon said she knew of at least four cases, and possibly more, but was surprised to not see an outbreak reported in the media.

Brownsdon was at the hospital from May 28 until June 18. She arrived due to a rare condition that left her with nerve problems in her legs. She was in emergency for one day, was tested for COVID-19, and then was moved to the second floor west. There were four people in her room.

One of the patients was removed from her room, as he went to the PATH Unit for Patient Assessment and Transition to Home.

A nurse came to ask her for a second COVID-19 test, saying one of the patients from her room had tested positive.

Brownsdon said one of the patients sharing her room became very sick. He had celebrated a birthday in hospital – either his 80th or 90th she said – and had been enjoying milkshakes his wife was bringing to him. Then suddenly he was vomiting violently.

“It was pretty intense for someone his age,” said Brownsdon. “He was really suffering.”

At that point she was showing no COVID-19 symptoms, but the test results brought bad news.

“I didn’t expect it to come back positive – that was such a surprise,” she said. “I ended up in isolation, which ended my physiotherapy.”

All of the COVID-19 patients were given their own rooms.

Brownsdon, 61, had received a Pfizer vaccination on June 4, while in hospital, and did not suffer with the virus like other patients. She had chills, cough, loss of taste and smell, and said her “blood pressure was all over the place.”

“It was worse than any flu,” she said.

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She said the patient spread the virus in the PATH unit, and the unit was shut down entirely, though that has not been confirmed by Fraser Health.

Brownsdon wanted to let the public know about what she termed an outbreak at Ridge Meadows Hospital.

“We should know we’ve got it here,” she said.

Spokesperson Dixon Tam said Fraser Health has not ordered an outbreak at Ridge Meadows Hospital. However, he added Fraser Health’s definition of an outbreak has changed since the early days of the pandemic, when just one case would be considered an outbreak.

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“We have infection control and prevention guidelines in place that provide criteria to determine when we would declare a COVID-19 outbreak in an acute care facility,” said Tam. “These criteria include evidence of continued transmission outside a single patient room, to or from a patient.”

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