The Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
The Coffs Harbour Health Campus. The Coffs Coast Advocate

Coffs Health Campus hit by new bug

UP to 18 patients at Coffs Harbour Health Campus have tested positive to a contagious antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.

Eight of those hit with Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE) have been quarantined, while 10 have been discharged.

Elective surgery has been postponed until tomorrow to take demand pressure off the hospital.

VRE patients remaining in the hospital have been quarantined and some bed areas have been closed while staff undertake a specific double-cleaning routine.

Coffs Harbour Health Campus Manager Margaret Bennett said in a normal healthy person VRE did not represent any risk and patients with it who were well enough could go home.

She said some ill patients required some additional specialist treatment.

VRE can cause infection or colonisation. Colonisation means you have the bacteria on or in your body but you are not sick. Infection means that the bacteria in or on your body are making you sick

Mrs Bennett said certain groups of patients were more at risk of infection, including those who had been in an intensive care unit, had long-term illnesses, had been on many different types of antibiotics; had an organ transplant, were on dialysis or who were long-term residents in aged care facilities.

Patients who have been treated with the strong antibiotic Vancomycin in the past are also more at risk

“One of the most significant ways to control and prevent its spread is through hand washing, especially after going to the toilet.”

“This is an opportunity and an imperative to remind patients, families and clinical staff of the need for adequate hand washing and precautions for anyone with VRE.”

On Thursday the hospital discovered three patients with VRE.

The area executive director for clinical operations, Wayne Jones said on Friday that all patients who had come into contact with the three known cases were being screened for VRE and until results were confirmed all potential cases were being managed using infection control guidelines for the management of VRE.

Yesterday Mrs Bennett said the screening had identified 18 patients who had tested positive. She said since the first detection on Thursday the outbreak had been managed under the direction and advice of an infectious diseases expert who had had experience in outbreaks at other facilities and some patients referred to Coffs harbour had been sent elsewhere.

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