Toronto (March 31, 2003) - University Health Network (UHN) is continuing to take all possible SARS precautions to protect patients and essential staff at its three downtown teaching hospitals.

"The directives handed down to acute care hospitals over the weekend are quite stringent and implementing them at a large organization like ours is a bit like trying to stop an oil tanker on a dime," said Tom Closson, President & CEO at UHN. "I am proud about how our staff has come together to implement these directives and I'm confident we have appropriate screening, evaluation and protective measures in place at all of our hospital sites."

University Health Network includes Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital.

Closson said a successful telephone fan out was initiated on Sunday, cascading through the organization, with managers notifying their respective staff considered essential to providing service to come to work Monday. The rest were asked to stay away from hospital with pay until further notice. UHN also continues to adhere to a strict No Visitors policy with the rare exception for visits to patients whose death is considered probable within 24 hours.

As well, UHN continues to suspend all non-urgent visits and procedures until further notice and patients have been contacted about cancellations. If patients have any doubts about whether their procedure or treatment is cancelled they should contact their physician or clinic. All clinic numbers are listed behind the SARS Update button on UHN's web site. At Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital, only the following services are open:

  • The Emergency Department
  • Emergency Surgery
  • Hemodialysis

Princess Margaret Hospital continues to treat patients with urgent health care oncology needs. This includes patients currently on cancer treatment and patients at the stage of cancer diagnosis and staging who will require urgent management once diagnosis and staging is completed. UHN has established a SARS page on its web site which provides information for patients about appointments and the operating status of the institution for staff at home.

"Our staff members are incredibly empathetic to the hardship these restrictions place on the patients currently in our hospitals," said Closson. "However, we are taking the right steps and people are pulling together in heroic fashion at UHN."

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