Coming off a Christmastime surgical slowdown, Royal Inland Hospital is now experiencing a norovirus outbreak on a medical ward.
Hospital administrator Marg Brown said Tuesday nine patients have shown symptoms of the gastro-intestinal illness. One tested positive for norovirus, and testing was stopped after that on the assumption the others had the same thing.
The outbreak started Friday. Brown said all the patients are doing OK. The seventh-floor medical ward is being quarantined, except for cardiac patients needing telemetry monitoring.
If everyone recovers and no new cases crop up, the ward could be opened by Thursday at the soonest.
The 20-bed unit the hospital opened several weeks ago to help handle overcrowding is helping ease crowding pressures, despite the outbreak, she said.
"Those 20 beds on four north are making a difference. It's having a desired impact," she said.
"With the extra beds we've opened, we've been at about 100 per cent occupancy, not much above that."
Prior to the beds opening, the hospital frequently ran at 120 per cent capacity, and even reached a record 134 per cent.
The Christmas slowdown allowed some doctors and nurses to take time off with their families. But the emergency department was still busy.
The hospital continues to work on a plan to create a ninth operating room — something that will help with surgical wait lists.
"That will really be good for this community," said Brown.