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Dear Colleagues, A recent National Post article examined Toronto's state of readiness in the event of a global pandemic. Infection control experts believe that the world may be due for a pandemic and that a pandemic might spread across the world with relatively little advance warning. Although experts can't predict when a pandemic will strike, it underscores the importance for every organization - governments, schools, hospitals, businesses - to be prepared. Let me take this opportunity to share UHN's pandemic planning efforts. For the last 18 months, Dr. Michael Gardam, Director of Infection Control has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Toronto Public Health to advise on their plans. These plans outline each level of government's role and responsibilities during a pandemic, and steps that have been taken to strengthen our public health infrastructure and capacity. As a hospital sector, UHN has been working for several months with other Toronto teaching hospitals to coordinate our pandemic planning efforts. By working together, we will benefit from each organization's expertise, experience, partnerships and resources. Organizationally, Michael is leading a UHN Pandemic Task Force with senior representatives from nursing, operations, infection control, human resources, communications, physicians and surgeons, and bioethics. The Task Force will examine many complex operational issues, such as staff safety and protection, impacts on patient care services, human resources, and provide recommendations to Senior Management. All decisions will be made using an ethical framework based on transparency and accountability. Finally, in the coming weeks, you will hear about UHN's annual Infection Control Awareness Week and Flu Campaign. This is a good reminder to staff that we must continually be vigilant in infection control and that the flu shot is the best, most effective way to prevent yourself, your family, and your patients from becoming ill with the flu strains that we know are present at this time. This is the first update on our pandemic planning. We will keep you informed as we move forward and as always, feel free to email your comments. Bob