Toronto (May 20, 2003) - Provincial health officials issued new directives to health care providers last week in anticipation that they would soon declare the SARS emergency officially over. Over the weekend, Premier Ernie Eves did just that. The new directives are intended to guide hospitals and other health service providers as they adopt new and ongoing practices and procedures to continue to safeguard the health and well-being of patients, staff, visitors and volunteers.

The directed changes reflect what the province calls a "new normal" phase of operations for Ontario health care practitioners who "must remain on the alert for new and emerging infectious diseases such as SARS." The changes will also ensure that the necessary practices and procedures are in place for early detection, prevention of exposure, and the appropriate management of individuals suspected of having infectious disease.

The new directives will see the further easing of restrictions, since there are now less than a dozen confirmed cases of the disease in the province and no new cases have emerged in the community or elsewhere for more than 20 days.

Like other teaching hospitals, Toronto Rehab is taking a phased approach to stepping back from the SARS precautions that were implemented more than a month ago. We will therefore continue to screen everyone entering the hospital until further notice.

However, starting Thursday, May 22, we will move to self-screening for staff. All staff will be responsible for screening themselves (using a screening tool) upon arrival at work each day. All staff will be required to show a current Toronto Rehab staff identification badge upon entry to the hospital. Those without an ID badge will be screened. Employees with elevated temperatures (of 38 degrees C or more) must wait at the screening desk to speak to Occupational Health. Employees who are not feeling well should stay home and contact Occupational Health.

All visitors (e.g. outpatients, family members, students, volunteers, vendors, contractors, business associates, etc.) will continue to be screened at the door until further notice. Visitors who are ill will be advised to stay away until they are well again. Visitors who pass the screening tool will be asked to sign in when they enter our buildings and to wear an ID badge. To manage screening, anyone visiting patients is asked not to arrive between 2:30 and 4:00 p.m. daily.

Entry to the hospital will still be limited to one entrance at each site. Screeners will continue to wear N95 masks.

We thank everybody for their ongoing patience and cooperation.

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Phone: 416 340 4636

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