Tuesday, 28 October 2014

MAHC is Preparing for Ebola Virus Disease

The topic of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is making headlines around the world and although the risk of contracting Ebola virus in Muskoka is very low, it’s important to know that your hospitals are prepared should a suspected case of Ebola arrive at our hospitals. This month’s blog is dedicated to that topic and has been prepared by Dr. Jan Goossens, the Chief of Staff at MAHC. This message was updated on November 25, 2014.
Dr. Jan Goossens, Chief of Staff
Dr. Jan Goossens
Chief of Staff
At Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare we understand there is concern in the community surrounding the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), and the hospitals’ readiness and preparedness. We have been monitoring the situation around the world, and in the United States especially.  And, although the risk of contracting the Ebola virus in Muskoka is very low, we have put precautionary measures in place at our Emergency Departments.
I would like to assure our community that at MAHC we have infection control systems and procedures in place that are designed to limit the spread of infection and protect health care workers, patients and visitors. MAHC is working in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) and Ministry of Health to safeguard the public’s wellbeing. We have implemented a directive of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for managing suspect cases and we continue to receive updates and other information through the Health Unit and Public Health Ontario. We have undertaken enhanced training to ensure that staff and physicians are comfortable with procedures for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment.

Signage has been posted at all public entrances to our hospitals to help our patients and visitors to self-identify recent travel to West African countries such as Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Bamako, Mali. If they have travelled to any of these countries or have been in contact with someone who has in the past 21 days and also have symptoms of the Ebola virus such as fever, diarrhea, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting or abdominal (stomach) pain, unexplained bleeding and/or a sore throat, they are asked to put on a mask and sanitize their hands at the entrance to the hospitals, and to proceed directly to the Triage Desk for assessment.
Please do not be alarmed if when you visit the Emergency Department the triage nurse is assessing your condition from behind a barrier. The Chief Medical Officer of Health has prescribed additional enhancements to Ebola preparedness and is requiring triage nursing staff at all Ontario hospitals to wear a gown, face shield, mask and gloves unless they are able to complete the assessment behind a suitable structural barrier. We have put appropriate structural barriers in place at both sites so that our staff do not have to wear the protective equipment.
Patients will be asked a series of questions by the Triage nurse, such as symptoms and travel history. If they are considered a suspect case of EVD, they will be isolated in our emergency department until transferred to one of the provincially-designated treatment facilities.

Please remember that in Ontario, and all of Canada, the risk remains very low, and the public should not be worried or alarmed. There has not been a confirmed case of EVD in Canada. In fact, the risk of infection with Influenza is much greater and more likely. Influenza symptoms often mimic the early signs of Ebola and we strongly encourage everyone to get their flu shot to protect themselves. Influenza kills more people every year than Ebola has throughout history.

What You Should Know
  • While the outbreak in West Africa is both devastating for those affected and a concern for international safety, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is reiterating that the overall risk to Ontarians from this outbreak remains low.
  • While EVD carries with it a high fatality rate, the virus itself does not spread easily from person to person. It is spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, not through casual contact.
  • If you have recently travelled to one of the affected areas, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and/or Bamako, Mali, you are reminded to be alert for possible symptoms of EVD.
  • Travel history to affected area
  • Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Sore throat

For additional facts about Ebola, please visit: