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Last week, we experienced our first suspected case of Ebola at UHN. While this scenario may make Canadians uneasy, our dedicated and professional staff at UHN handled the situation exactly the way it should have been and all of our protocols were followed. This situation is why we have been planning and working with staff since the WHO declared Ebola a global health emergency to ensure we are prepared to care for a patient infected with this virus, while ensuring that everyone caring for such a patient is safe.
This most recent suspect case of Ebola does not change any of our protocols or planning. Our preparations are on-going and are led by a team of experts on our Ebola Virus Disease Steering Committee. Emergency Preparedness, Occupational Health and Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) have been holding additional N95 respirator fit testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) training sessions for staff across the organization and our EDs are conducting enhanced screening procedures. The TWH critical care team has been working to ensure the Isolation Unit - 2 Fell POD 107 is ready.
It is extremely important that staff who have not been trained in PPE attend a training session - where everyone gets hands-on instruction in donning and doffing. We now know from first-hand experience that caring for a patient who is suspected of having Ebola takes a lot of people power and we need as many staff as possible proficient in PPE. The managers of each department have information regarding dates and times of upcoming training sessions.
As we start to see how other health care organizations and hospitals are preparing and in the event that there is an Ebola patient in Canada, each institution may have PPE that looks different to ours. UHN has selected PPE, in consultation with frontline staff, based on both protection and comfort. Our PPE offers excellent protection.
An overview of our Ebola preparedness plan is now available on the Ebola preparedness section of the intranet and will be updated weekly. A detailed FAQ document is also available for staff who have questions about our plan. We will continue to anticipate all aspects of caring for an Ebola patient and ensure that staff safety is our top priority.
In response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, several UHN staff members have volunteered to provide professional assistance in the region. All staff members who travel to any of the outbreak areas should advise Occupational Health (14-3978) at least one week prior to travel to receive information about appropriate symptom surveillance protocols upon returning to Canada.
The compassion and commitment we have seen from staff across the organization has been incredible. Until the Ebola outbreak is declared over, we will continue to make sure that we are as prepared as possible to care for our patients while protecting our staff.
Kathy Sabo Senior Vice President Executive Lead – Ebola Preparedness
Dr. Susy Hota Medical Co-Lead – Ebola Preparedness
Dr. Jeff Singh Medical Co-Lead – Ebola Preparedness