​Dear Colleagues,

A quick update of the past week with regards to the Influenza A H1N1 virus and UHN's preparations in the event that this moves to pandemic status. I'm afraid 'swine flu' trips off the tongue a little easier but will do what I can to use the official language!

Many people are working steadily so that we are ready to implement our pandemic plan, should we be required to do so. We have purchased and are holding eight weeks worth of all the supplies we would need to protect staff and patients, should it become necessary. We are also working through the systems necessary for the redeployment of staff, the creation of on-site flu assessment centres to take the pressure off our Emergency Departments, the distribution of Tamiflu and updating our mask fit testing, particularly for staff members who are in daily contact with many patients. These are all things which would help us function, should we see a lot of transmission in the community. I want to emphasize that we are doing these things so that we will be ready, but none of these actions means that the pandemic will happen. This work means that we will be as ready as we can be for a flu pandemic.

I have asked Susy Hota and Karen Stockton in Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) to lead our clinical communications. So, when UHN receives Important Health Notices (IHNs) from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, IPAC will read it, clarify anything that they think is confusing, and distribute the information to UHN's Leadership Forum and the Nursing Leadership Group. Richard Reznick will ensure this information gets to our students, Emma Pavlov will make sure the Volunteers receive information and Chris Paige will do the same for our research group. I will be sending Straight Talks to everyone when necessary to give an overview of what's happening at UHN. Everyone should also know that IPAC has posted a great deal of information on their intranet site and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care site will have all of the IHNs posted as they are distributed. No one will lack information. The challenge will be to ensure that all information is clear, concise and related to what we must do at UHN.

One final reminder about your own health and what you should do if you think you are getting sick. If you have a fever and respiratory symptoms, please don't come to work and if you've been to Mexico or the southern U.S. within the last 10 days and have those symptoms, it's imperative that you stay home. Rest, drink plenty of fluids and please call Occupational Health and Safety to report your symptoms. If you need medical care, see your family doctor and if you experience severe symptoms, visit the Emergency Department that is closest to your home. It is going to be difficult to distinguish colds, regular flu and allergies from this flu in its early stages but we really don't want anyone working while they are ill - Influenza A H1N1 virus or not.

I'll remind everyone that whatever the strain, this is flu. We work with flu patients all the time and we know what to do. Most of us have had flu in our lifetime and, while it isn't comfortable, we recover. It's hard to ignore the media coverage and rather sensational tone being taken in the coverage but my advice is to do what we always do at UHN - plan, prepare and apply our skills to the problem. That always serves us well.


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