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Toronto hospital enacts strict staff quarantine
The hospital at the center of Toronto’s SARS outbreak has responded with extensive precautions that risk managers find useful when planning their own response. North York General Hospital closed most of its services, including its emergency department, and enacted strict staff quarantine.
North York General Hospital implemented the changes in services on May 23 and initiated full-barrier protection, says spokeswoman Kara Miel. Employees and physicians were placed on work quarantine and the hospital closed all services at three of its sites.
North York General was in the geographic epicenter of Toronto’s first outbreak of SARS but continued to provide essential services to the community. Then the hospital found out that a patient who had been discharged from its surgical ward apparently was the index case for a second outbreak. The hospital immediately responded with mandatory quarantines of staff and urged visitors and patients who were at the hospital between April 19 and May 12 to self-isolate if they had symptoms of SARS.
All hospital staff and physicians were placed under work quarantine immediately — generally meaning they could go to work but must isolate themselves at all other times — and then one week later, the Toronto Public Health revised the work quarantine policy to say that workers must be quarantined for 10 days from "the last day you were present at any of the four Hospital sites without a mask. For example, if you were last at the Leslie site without a mask on Friday, May 23, 2003, your work quarantine ends on Monday, June 2, 2003." Staff and physicians must follow the quarantine instructions even they do not display symptoms of SARS.
The quarantine directives vary for different groups in the hospital. This is how the hospital instructed them to quarantine themselves:
Residents must remain in their current rotation until further notice.