Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit October 24, 2016 - 8:30 am

Nunavut grandmother complains about dirt-ridden Iqaluit hospital

"They need to really start keeping up with the cleaning"

DIRTY: that's Mary-Lee Aliyak wrote on the floor in the bathroom of the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit where her granddaughter stayed. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MARY-LEE ALIYAK)
DIRTY: that's Mary-Lee Aliyak wrote on the floor in the bathroom of the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit where her granddaughter stayed. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MARY-LEE ALIYAK)

(Updated, 2:50 p.m.)

By last Thursday, Mary-Lee Aliyak had seen enough of the dirty conditions in her granddaughter’s room at the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.

She had already complained to staff about the room, telling them “this is really dirty.”

But that “wasn’t going anywhere,” and the room remained dirty, she told Nunatsiaq News.

That’s why on Oct. 20 she said she wrote “dirty” on the floor and posted a photo of it, to show the extent of the grime, along with other photos of the room— immediately provoking a big response on social media.

Until Aliyak complained on social media, only one cleaner had came to the room during the two days she’d been there with her granddaughter, Aliyak said in an Oct. 21 interview.

But the cleaner only took the garbage out and didn’t wash or “even sweep or wipe the sink anywhere,” she said.

The hospital bed was also crusty with old juice until she cleaned it herself.

Six hours after Aliyak posted the photos, her granddaughter was moved to another room in the maternity ward while cleaners could clean the room her granddaughter shared with an elder.

That room in the maternity unit was also dirty, Aliyak said.

Afterwards her granddaughter and the elder sharing her room were put back into the same room—but what about the other rooms on the ward?

Those didn’t receive the same cleaning effort, Aliyak said.

“They need to really start keeping up with the cleaning,” she said. “They’re not doing everything they should.”

There are some hardworking janitors, she said, and some that don’t do everything.

To change the situation, Aliyak suggests changes from the top down, including better equipment, training, monitoring and staff meetings, along with more staff encouragement.

Nunatsiaq News has asked for comment from the health department on its maintenance procedures and to respond to Aliyak’s complaints about the cleanliness at the 35-bed hospital.

The QGH, the health department did confirm mid-afternoon Oct. 24, received a four-year extension of its accreditation in 2015 from Accreditation Canada although a map on the Accreditation Canada website doesn’t show any accredited health facilities in Nunavut.

To get accreditation, a hospital must meet certain minimum standards. The national accreditation body, then called the Canadian Council on Health Services, refused to grant accreditation to the hospital in late 2005, when it was still lodged in its former 1960s-era building.

The move to withhold accreditation meant the hospital did not meet national standards. Until then, the hospital had been accredited since the early 1990s. Five years after the new $64-million QGH wing opened, the hospital’s accreditation was renewed from 2012 to 2015.

The Tammaativvik patient boarding home in Iqaluit, which is operated by a private contractor on behalf of the GN, also came under fire in the Nunavut Legislature recently for a lack of cleanliness.

Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak said Oct. 19 that “an ongoing concern expressed by patients is the lack of cleanliness in the rooms or cleaning that is late after their arrival. Medical patients need to be in a clean environment.”

These criticisms come at a time when Nunavut continues to show a high rate of infections, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known by its acronym, MRSA, which is at least 30 times higher in Nunavut than in the South.

This infection is caused by a type of bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections.

And most MRSA infections occur in people who’ve been to hospitals or other health care facilities.

Cleaning is among the vital elements of infection prevention and control strategies, states a fact sheet on healthcare-associated infections that develop as a result of their exposure to healthcare facilities or procedures.

MRSA and other disease-causing pathogens can survive in the health care environment for extended periods of time, even months, the fact sheet says: “In fact, these infections are inherently well adapted to survive in dust and on floors, bedrails, telephones, call buttons, curtains and other surfaces.”

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