Shelters prepare for flu

Ottawa is now in the second wave of the H1N1 pandemic, Ottawa’s medical officer of health said yesterday.

Ottawa is now in the second wave of the H1N1 pandemic, Ottawa’s medical officer of health said yesterday.

“Since Sept. 1, we’ve had in Ottawa just over 110 residents who tested positive for the virus,” said Dr. Isra Levy. Of these, 28 have required hospitalization, six in the ICU. This week alone, there have been five hospitalizations.

Cases in schools have also been rising in the last week.

Since the beginning of September, 77 schools have reported more than 10 per cent absenteeism. Sixty of the schools made the report in the last few days.

Despite the rising number of cases, the city’s homeless shelters said they are prepared for whatever comes next.

Working with the city’s three main shelters, including the Ottawa Mission, the Shepherds of Good Hope and the Salvation Army, and two women’s shelters, Inner City Health has a plan to manage clientele who become ill with H1N1.

The plan, which was developed after SARS, involves rolling out vaccination clinics at shelters starting yesterday as well as screening, and caring for those who are ill at a special care unit at the Salvation Army Booth Centre, said Wendy Muckle, executive director of Inner City Health.

“So far, we’ve had lots of people screened, and so far, 12 people have been isolated,” she said. The shelter currently has one person in isolation.

The unit consists of 14 single rooms, but there are a total of 30 beds on that floor, said Muckle.

The centre, which always has medical staff on duty, is already equipped and “if necessary, we can move beyond the special care unit,” said Salvation Army spokesman Michael Maidment.

“We can convert all the beds for people who are ill and send the healthy people to the other shelters.”

Over at the Ottawa Mission, manager of health services Marg Smeaton said both clients and staff are “certainly aware of the flu and are very vigilant about it now.”

“We do mention it at any gatherings we have of clients and we do have posters everywhere,” she said.

Levy said the city’s vaccination clinics, which began Monday, continue to be very popular, with staff inoculating 7,750 people yesterday.

Key issues continue to be managing wait times and finding available nursing staff to administer vaccines.

 
 
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