There has been much discussion in recent days regarding the readiness of our health care system to handle potential cases of Ebola. Although the risk of Ebola in Canada remains low, protecting the health and safety of our patients, staff, physicians, families and the community is of the utmost importance.
The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) has been working diligently to plan and prepare in the event we receive a patient presenting with Ebola or Ebola-like symptoms. We have a series of updated policies and processes for infectious diseases. Ontario hospitals are receiving ongoing support and updates from the Ministry of Health Emergency Management Branch, Public Health Ontario and the Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC).
Internal management and coordination – Our hospital has established a cross-functional committee of health care professionals, working in consultation with our Infection Prevention and Control department. Meeting daily, the committee is overseeing our hospital’s plans, implementation and communications of our emergency preparedness.
Screening and caring for patients – Since August, both of our Emergency Departments (EDs) have included screening procedures, including the patient’s travel history, as part of the triage process. These measures are being extended to our outpatient clinics and elective surgery patients. We have also identified the most appropriate areas in the EDs and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) to assess, admit and treat suspected cases. As well, our hospital public entrances will soon have signage to inform patients to self-screen and identify themselves appropriately to hospital staff.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Drawing from provincial agency recommendations, appropriate PPE is available at both campuses for staff and physicians to wear when caring for a suspected Ebola patient. Training sessions for frontline staff for the appropriate donning and doffing of PPE have begun in high risk areas, including the EDs, ICUs, Laboratory, Patient Transportation and Environmental Services.
Staff training and mock drills –Mock scenarios for treating an Ebola patient have also been held in our EDs to better prepare our frontline staff. Testing of our systems and processes will be ongoing and will be informed by guidance received from provincial agencies.
Information and resources – For TSH staff a dedicated section has been created on the hospital’s Intranet. In a similar fashion, for the public, we will soon have a website page with the latest information and resources on Ebola.
At TSH, we are taking Ebola preparedness very seriously, as we do in all our infection prevention and control planning. Our hospital has a longstanding focus on providing the highest quality patient care in a safe environment. I extend my appreciation to all of our frontline staff and our planning team for their diligence and continued commitment in providing safe patient care.