NEWMARKET – York Region Health Services advises residents that they will see changes to patient procedures if they visit their doctor, walk-in medical clinic or hospital emergency department, in light of avian influenza A (H5N1) or “bird flu” outbreaks in several Asian countries and ongoing surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
“Don’t be surprised if you are asked a series of health-related questions or notice fellow patients wearing surgical masks or being isolated from others,” commented Dr. Helena Jaczek, Commissioner of York Region Health Services and Medical Officer of Health. “All healthcare providers across the province have been advised to heighten surveillance and infection control procedures, as an extra safety precaution.”
“As a public health body, we fully support this protective measure.”
Healthcare providers have been asked by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to adopt the following heightened vigilance for febrile respiratory illness (fever and respiratory-related symptoms) in patients and clients:
Screen for Febrile Respiratory Illness
All patients will be asked the following questions as part of an active screening process:
1. Do you have a new/worse cough or shortness of breath?
2. Are you feeling feverish, have you had the shakes or chills in the last 24 hours?
3. Have you traveled to any of the countries of concern in the last 30 days or have you had contact with a sick person who has traveled to these same areas?
If a patient or client answers positively to questions 1, 2 and 3
1. The healthcare professional will initiate droplet precautions
(wear a surgical mask and eye protection)
2. The client will be isolated from other patients and staff
3. A surgical mask will be placed on the client
4. If further assessment is required, arrangements will be made for the client to be taken to an Emergency Department for evaluation, with the Emergency Department notified in advance
“Residents should be confident that their health and safety are our top priority,” added Dr. Hanif Kassam, York Region’s Associate Medical Officer of Health and Director, Public Health Programs. “York Region Health Services takes the potential spread of any infectious disease very seriously. We are actively working with our local healthcare community to ensure that these protective standards are implemented and maintained as long as necessary.”
The provincial protective standards apply to non-acute and acute healthcare settings, including hospitals, physicians, community care access centres (CCACs) and long term care facilities. Locally, York Region Health Services works with more than 1000 physicians’ offices, over 40 long term care and retirement homes, four hospitals, the CCAC of York Region and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on an ongoing basis.
The current countries of concern are Vietnam, Thailand, China, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan (at time of release).
For more information on this or other health-related matter, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.region.york.on.ca
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