​Dear Colleagues,

We continue to monitor for the H1N1 Influenza A virus amongst our employees and our patients and we have picked up four confirmed cases of this strain of flu in our staff across UHN.  Now that we are testing specifically for this strain, we are finding it and it is up to all of us to be vigilant in monitoring our own health and the health of our patients.  It is reassuring to me that, in the cases we've found, that people have been mildly ill and are all expected to return to health very quickly. I'm also told that two of the individuals appear to have picked up the flu in the community and that the remaining two were in contact with one of these community-acquired cases while at work.  Only one of the cases we have confirmed has had contact with patients (at PMH) and I am asking all members of the PMH team and all patients at PMH to be extra vigilant with regard to flu symptoms.

As you know, Occupational Health & Safety and Infection Prevention and Control work to contain transmission of any and all infectious diseases so that we protect your health, the health of our patients and the health of your family.  I cannot give individual details of cases for reasons of confidentiality.  Occupational Health & Safety and Infection Prevention and Control have done everything that they can to limit exposure of staff members and patients to any form of respiratory illness, and I see no evidence that we have any cause for concern beyond our day-to-day approach of taking standard infection control precautions with unknown respiratory illness, whether it appears in a staff member or a patient.

Last week my Straight Talk telling the organization that a staff member had contracted the flu received a lot of attention in the media.  It was a bit unusual that I sent out a Straight Talk about one individual who had become ill with the flu but I did so because of the high levels of interest and anxiety about this flu and UHN's commitment to giving you information that you need to remain safe at work.  We will continue to take this approach, keeping you up to date and continue to reinforce the message that everyone should be using standard infection control precautions for respiratory illness.

This flu, like all other flus, may be contained by excellent hand hygiene, avoiding close contact with individuals who have symptoms and by using standard precautions for unknown respiratory illness whether you're at work, at home or out in the community.  Limiting the spread of flu depends on each of us monitoring and assessing our own health for fever, new coughs, shortness of breath or any other symptoms which tell us that we're coming down with the flu.  It also depends on each and every member of staff using standard infection control precautions when working with patients who are exhibiting the symptoms of respiratory illness. 

If you think you're sick, stay home and rest.   Please contact Occupational Health by calling the 24 hour pager. They will be able to advise you on how best to proceed and they will also confirm with you when you may return to work.

 

Bob Bell

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