Approximately 50 Misericordia Community Hospital employees are self-isolating after attending a retirement party where one guest tested positive for COVID-19.
The employees went to a retirement party and are now following provincial health guidelines, according to a spokesperson for the Alberta nurse’s union.
“They were masking, they weren’t sharing food, they were trying to do everything that they could,” said David Harrigan with the United Nurses of Alberta.
Harrigan said that nurses, healthcare aides and managers were in attendance. The party didn’t happen on hospital property.
“They kept it to a minimum, they kept it to less than 50 people, I think they followed the precautions, it’s just, I mean sometimes stuff happens,” said Harrigan.
Despite the precautions, Arthur Schafer with the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics said the employees should not have gathered in person.
“(It) doesn’t sound as if they hit the highest standards that we might hope would be observed by healthcare professionals,” said Schafer.
Covenant Health, which runs the Misericordia Community Hospital, has not released any details about the party.
“I think it’s ethically dubious that the hospital hasn’t been forthcoming and, as we speak, is still not providing many of the salient details to which the public is entitled,” said Schafer.
In a statement to CTV News Edmonton Covenant Health said, “If there was a risk to the public, we would publicly notify.”
“This was a private event and AHS completed all case follow up,” said Karen Diaper with Covenant Health. “In this case, AHS was in touch with anyone who was at risk.”
This incident comes just weeks after the Misericordia Hospital went through a COVID-19 outbreak that infected 58 people and killed 11 patients.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, addressed the incident in her Tuesday COVID-19 update.
“Anyone who is attending a social gathering needs to be thinking about the possibility of COVID exposure,” said Hinshaw. “If you’re at a gathering and you think, ‘What would happen if someone here were to be infectious,’ and if you look around and think, ‘Hmm, we would all be close contacts,’ then the approach needs to be changed.”
Covenant Health said that the hospital is fully staffed and operating normally for the time being, though the nurse’s union said that may not last.
“For two weeks, it’s probably doable, but if you’re taking 50 people out of a work site, for any great length of time, you’re going to run into problems,” said Harrigan.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson