Patient in Kelowna isolated for Ebola, initial test negative

Nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon of Rossland being tested, health officials highly confident Ebola not cause of symptoms

Rossland nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon chops food for a rescued elephant while serving with the Red Cross in Sierra Leone.

Rossland nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon chops food for a rescued elephant while serving with the Red Cross in Sierra Leone.

A B.C. health care worker who has returned from Sierra Leone is undergoing further tests in an isolation unit at Kelowna General Hospital to rule out the Ebola virus after an initial test came back negative.

Rossland nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon returned to Kelowna Christmas Day after treating Ebola patients at a Red Cross treatment centre in Sierra Leone and was partway into the three-week period of self-monitoring to watch for the emergence of symptoms after potential exposure.

MORE ON PATRICE GORDON’S WORK IN SIERRA LEONE:Rossland nurse headed to epicentre of Ebola outbreak (Trail Daily Times)Chilcotin nurse tackling Ebola (Williams Lake Tribune)Interior Health Facebook page and photos

She began experiencing a low fever and sore throat on Sunday, public health officials say, and drove herself to the Kelowna ER around 6 p.m. Monday to await testing, in accordance with provincial policy for Ebola.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it’s “very likely” she merely has flu or cold symptoms, not the deadly virus that has killed thousands of people in West Africa.

“The clinical symptoms weren’t consistent with Ebola but we needed to be really sure,” Henry said. “The virus circulating in the blood is often low early on in the illness.”

Test results could come back as early as Wednesday, she said, allowing discharge soon after if Ebola is not detected.

Hospital staff trained on how to deal with Ebola patients ushered her into the hospital through a back door in the back of the ambulance bay,  adjacent to the emergency department, where there’s a quarantine room,  said Kelowna General Hospital chief of staff Dr. Mike Ertel.

Gordon is not the only health care worker or traveller who has returned to B.C. from West Africa and under scrutiny for Ebola.

PHOTO: Patrice Gordon caring for a one-month-old baby girl who tested positive for Ebola. (redcross.ca)

Seven others are now self-monitoring and not going to work – as the Kelowna patient was up until Sunday – while they wait for the end of the 21-day Ebola incubation period.

Nine previous B.C. individuals have also undergone the three-week wait to ensure no Ebola symptoms appeared.

Only once before has a patient been isolated in a B.C. hospital and tested for Ebola because of the emergency of symptoms that could not immediately be ruled out.

That case was handled in August at Vancouver General Hospital.

No positive Ebola cases have yet been confirmed in B.C.

If one is, the patient will be treated by a specialty team at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Most health care workers returning to B.C. from serving in West Africa have been in the Lower Mainland, but Henry said there are some in every region of the province.

Gordon issued a statement saying she feels she just has cold symptoms but understands the need to take precautions.

“The biggest concern is that the publicity given to my situation here in B.C. right now might deflect some of the attention from the real issue, which is the plight of the people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia,” she said.

“I’d like to reassure my family and the public that I have absolute confidence that I am receiving the best of care in a fashion that fully protects the public. I want to encourage everyone to keep the focus where it belongs – back in West Africa.”

Interior Medical Health Officer Dr. Rob Parker called her an “extremely conscientious health care worker” who has had very limited contact with family members since returning from Africa.

One person might be exposed and require follow up if Ebola is confirmed, he said.

Both Parker and Henry said proper procedures were followed at KGH during the transfer Monday afternoon.

They also emphasized that Ebola transmission requires direct contact with blood or bodily fluids and is unlikely to result from someone just walking through an ER.

Kelowna General is one of five B.C. hospitals designated to isolate suspect Ebola patients awaiting testing and treatment within their regions. Other Ebola referral hospitals are Surrey Memorial for the Lower Mainland, Royal Jubilee Hospital for Vancouver Island, University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George for the North, while children would go to B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Even prior to the arrival of any suspect Ebola cases, health officials in B.C. have been grappling with intense anxiety among health care workers and their unions over the procedures to contain the virus.

Although B.C. health officials initially declined to name Gordon or even say where she was from – citing patient confidentiality – the Canadian Red Cross late Tuesday said she has agreed to be identified.

Red Cross officials said Gordon followed protocols for the use of personal protective equipment and she is unaware of any unprotected exposure to Ebola virus.

“During her mission, Ms. Gordon worked at the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre in Kenema where she provided life-saving support and care to those affected by Ebola,” said Red Cross senior manager Stephane Michaud.

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of aid workers such as Ms. Gordon, the Red Cross has been able to make a real difference in Kenema, where there has been a decline in infections. However, we must remain vigilant as the number of cases across the country remains high.”

– with files from Kathy Michaels, Kelowna Capital News

Nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon (left) learns full garb procedure during Ebola training in Madrid, Spain, prior to going to West Africa to help treat the disease.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 27 (SD27) issued notice Thursday, Feb. 25 of a COVID-19 exposure at Mountview Elementary School. (Angie Mindus photo)
School district reports positive COVID-19 case in Williams Lake elementary school

A letter went home to families of Mountview Elementary School

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City of Williams Lake seeks feedback on hosting junior hockey league team

A league expansion application in Quesnel is also pending

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

LADDER USED IN FIRE FIGHT: While smoke billows out of the second floor of the Maple Leaf Hotel, members of the Williams Lake Volunteer Fire Department fight to contain the blaze. The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze that wreaked havoc on the interior of the 57-year-old hotel. One man, Harold Hurst of Riske Creek, died in the fire. (Ernest Engemoen photo - Williams Lake Tribune, April 12, 1977)
FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Ladder used in fire fight

The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read