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This week, Mr. Justice Archie Campbell released his final report on SARS which drew considerable media coverage. The report focuses on occupational health and safety issues in hospitals, as well as communication procedures and protocols within hospitals and with the government and public health agencies. Justice Campbell made a number of recommendations to strengthen our health care system's capacity to respond to future emergencies, particularly the need to emphasize staff safety and infection control.
I believe protecting our staff is paramount and this is a key principle behind our pandemic planning efforts. One of the steps UHN has taken, along with other Toronto teaching hospitals, is to purchase antivirals to prophylax all staff during an influenza pandemic. This decision is justified because we want to protect ourselves and keep our hospitals running. Research tells us that antivirals are very effective when they are used for prevention (prophylaxis). Of course, the nature of the pandemic will influence how and when we will use this supply of antivirals.
Before I sign off, I'd like to recognize all staff for the way they handled one of Ontario's darkest chapters. This was a difficult, emotional and complex health emergency. I certainly echo Justice Campbell's words in his recognition that "the strength of Ontario's response lay in the work of the people who stepped up and fought SARS. What went right, in a system where so much went wrong, is their dedication." This rings very true for staff at UHN.
The full report is available at www.sarscommission.ca.