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Stevenson in C. difficile outbreak: strong response and precautions to be taken in resolving C. difficile cases

Stevenson Memorial Hospital, in consultation with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), has declared an outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), after five cases were confirmed at the hospital during the past month.

C. difficile is a bacterium that many people carry in their bowel, posing little risk for healthy individuals. However, it can become a health issue for patients who are unwell, elderly, or otherwise health-comprised, particularly those on antibiotics which kill off the "good bacteria" in the bowel and allow C. difficile to flourish and cause infection. The most effective way to stop the spread of the disease is frequent and thorough hand-washing. 

Stevenson Memorial in consultation with Public Health Ontario will bring in robust precautions and safety measures which include a strong enforcement of hand hygiene, putting in place new environmental cleaning systems, and a firm commitment to antibiotics stewardship. 

“We will exercise strong vigilance and demonstrate our commitment to implementing best practices with respect to infection control and prevention measures,” says Dr. Jody Levac, President and CEO.  “Through the steadfast work of our staff in implementing new systems and a continuous approach, we are confident that we will come out of outbreak with even stronger quality standards, and ultimately win this lengthy battle with C-diff.”

All visitors and patients are asked to pay special attention to good hand hygiene habits when entering and leaving patient care areas.  In certain cases, visitors will be required to wear personal protective equipment, including, gowns and gloves, while visiting with patients.  Enhanced cleaning precautions are being maintained and have included the disinfecting of the entire hospital and patient environments. 

Stevenson is also asking for help with respect to limiting risk with respect to visitors. Visitor Guidelines for the Medical Surgical Unit during outbreak will include:

  • Visitors should be over the age of 12 (this helps limit unnecessary exposure for children)
  • Exceptions are made for palliative patients (please speak with a nurse)

Stevenson will continue to consult with Public Health to ensure we have adequate systems in place to prevent future outbreaks. 

A fact sheet on C. difficile can be downloaded from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s website at:

http://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/Libraries/TOPIC_InfectiousDisease/Clostridium_difficile.sflb.ashx