The City of Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health and the Hospital Emergency Preparedness Committee of Ottawa are working closely to prepare for the likely arrival of human swine influenza.
“Ottawa and the health care sector have learned lessons from the 2003 SARS experience in Ontario,” said Dr. Isra Levy, Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa. “Since that time, planning and preparation remained in the forefront to ensure that Ottawa can effectively respond should the situation in Ottawa escalate.”
When the virus was first detected, Ottawa Public Health gathered experts in epidemiology, infectious disease control, outbreak management and special populations care to address the situation.
Ottawa Public Health increased communication with local community partners such as schools, child care facilities, and community health and resource centres to stress the importance of infection prevention, Dr. Levy said in a release.
In response to the heightened alert, the Clinical Care Command Centre has been activated. This joint decision centre is responsible for coordinating community and hospital-based assessment, investigation and clinical management of influenza patients.
Each local hospital is screening all patients entering emergency departments. Patients diagnosed with a respiratory infection that is a suspected case of human swine influenza will be tested and will receive appropriate care.
Test results could take seven to 10 days. Only patients that test positive will be contacted.
All hospitals are enforcing visitor guidelines to keep the number of people coming into hospitals to a minimum.
Patients and visitors will be asked to self-screen before entering the hospital. As is the case at any time, visitors are asked to refrain from coming to the hospital except for required medical treatment when they are unwell.
In addition, hospitals are increasing enforcement of hand hygiene programs to ensure infection prevention practices are practiced effectively and consistently.