UPDATE: 40 Hospital staff battling stomach bug, 26 surgeries postponed

Royal Inland Hospital has had to postpone some surgeries due to an outbreak of what is believed to be norovirus in operating room staff.

KAMLOOPS – Some operating rooms at Royal Inland Hospital have been shut down as public health inspectors investigate why 40 staff members became ill yesterday and today.

Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Rob Parker says staff became ill yesterday with what is suspected to be norovirus, or stomach flu, and more staff members continued to come down with the gastrointestinal illness over the day. This morning even more staff members were required to stay home due to similar symptoms.

All staff affected work in the operating room area, attending a staff social event earlier in the week Parker says, and anyone who has gone to the party and feels ill is now required to stay home as the hospital tries to keep the bug from spreading.

“There is no evidence it has spread throughout the hospital, to patients or other staff,” Parker says. “It appears to just be staff that went to the social event.”

Those affected have been sent home and are being tested to pinpoint the cause of the stomach upset. Interior Health requires sick staff to stay home for 48 hours after symptoms have resolved, meaning many staff will be off work for at least several days.

That's really our recommendation for anyone who is sick — if you're sick, stay home,” the doctor says, “and wash your hands all the time.”

Hospital administrator Marg Brown says for many the illness came on quite quickly yesterday or the night before, though it appears to have slowed down with only the odd case coming up today. Because of the number of staff affected in the one area 26 surgeries have already had to be postponed. Elective surgeries are not usually held over the weekend and Brown says their is sufficient staff levels to deal with any emergency surgeries. It is unknown at this point if any surgeries scheduled for Monday will be affected.

"We will be monitoring the situation quite closely over the weekend to see what will happen on Monday," Brown says. "It's too soon to tell at this point."

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

This story was updated at 2:51 p.m., Dec. 13, 2013 to include information from Marg Brown.

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