I'd like to start this week's wrap-up about the H1N1 Influenza A virus – AKA swine flu – with a note of appreciation to everyone who works here.  Your practical approach, coupled with skill and knowledge is something your patients rely on each and every day.  I always value these qualities, but never more so than when living through a time when rumour and misinformation can create fear.  I am fortunate to work with so many people who have such a large store of common sense.

I am pleased to be able to tell you that our colleague from Princess Margaret Hospital is doing very well and I know that you understand that that is as much information as I can release about the health of an individual staff member.  Occupational Health & Safety and Infection Prevention & Control have completed the work necessary around contact tracking and we are optimistic that we will not see further illness as a result of this exposure.

As you must know by now, symptoms of this strain of flu are fever, new cough, shortness of breath, chills.  These are also symptoms of seasonal flu, a variety of other respiratory ailments and symptoms associated with other conditions.  So, I must continue to stress that, should you have these symptoms, particularly fever and respiratory symptoms, that you should not come to work and that you should call Occupational Health & Safety.  And, for those of you who are working with patients, please work through the Febrile Respiratory Illness tool and use our standard precautions to protect yourself and other patients until you have ruled out flu.

As a physician, I look at what's happening around this strain of flu and think that we are seeing a relatively mild strain of flu which may affect a lot of people because it is a new flu and no one has immunity.  We're doing a lot of planning now against the likelihood that it will continue to spread in the community and that many of us may become sick and spend some lousy time at home in bed.  As a hospital, we have to plan for this eventuality because we will need to be here to care for our patients.  We all need to take the usual precautions of great hand hygiene and staying at home if we are ill.  We'll continue to plan and prepare for lots of flu in the community, but hope that that doesn't happen!

I will be sending out Straight Talks as needed and thank you again for supporting all of our efforts to keep you, your family and your patients safe.

Bob Bell

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