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Toronto (May 27, 2003) - The Toronto General Hospital (TGH), a site of University Health Network, was adjusted by the Provincial Operating Committee this afternoon to a Category 2. The hospital's Emergency Department remains closed and will be closed until its staff who are home on quarantine can return to work on June 2. The rest of the Toronto General Hospital's inpatient and outpatient activities remain at their normal levels.
The status change comes as a result of transmission of SARS from a patient who came to the Emergency Department last Thursday to two staff members at the Toronto General Hospital. All staff members in the Emergency Department were wearing protective equipment although, because the staff had no reason to suspect that the patient had SARS, some staff members were missing an item of protective apparel. All staff members who came in contact with the patient, and who were missing a piece of equipment when in contact with the patient, were sent home on quarantine last Thursday.
Unfortunately, two people from the group who were sent home are now under investigation for SARS and have been admitted to the TGH's SARS unit.
"The transmission of SARS to staff is extremely distressing for everyone at our organization," said Tom Closson, President and CEO of University Health Network. "Our thoughts are with our colleagues and their families, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that they are supported through their illness. We continue to phone all staff who are at home on quarantine so that we can make sure that everyone is healthy or receives the care they need should they become ill."
With the exception of its Emergency, Toronto General Hospital is open in all areas, and all procedures scheduled for patients of the hospital will go ahead.
"The exposure to SARS was extremely limited at the TGH site," said Dr. Michael Gardam, Director of Infection Prevention and Control. "We were extremely cautious in sending staff home on quarantine and have traced all contacts of this patient within the hospital. I am satisfied that there was containment of the exposure and the Category 2 rating is appropriate."
Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, which make up University Health Network, have increased their screening of all individuals entering the hospital during this period as a further precaution against the introduction of new SARS cases to the hospital.
"We remain vigilant and will err on the side of caution in all decisions we make around the safety and health of our employees, physicians, volunteers and, of course, our patients," said Mr. Closson.
Toronto General Hospital is a partner in University Health Network, along with Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals. The scope of research and complexity of cases at Toronto General Hospital has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has one of the largest hospital-based research programs in Canada, with major research projects in cardiology, transplantation, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, and genomic medicine. Toronto General Hospital is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.
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