X-Message-Number: 21852
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2003 07:01:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: Christine Gaspar <>
Subject: SARS update

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     Hello everyone. I wanted to provide an update to the SARS situation in 
     Toronto, and for myself.

     Tomorrow is my last day of an imposed 10 day quarantine period for myself, 
     and thousands of my co-workers. I have not left my apartment for 9 days, 
     except one night last Monday to go to work. We are on a "work quarantine" 
     which forbids us from going anywhere except to work, and to not take public
     transit, and to wear a mask when enroute to and from work. At home, we are
     required to wear a mask around our family members, not to eat or sleep 
     with anyone, and of course no kissing and to take our temperature twice per
     day. So far no signs of illness for me.

     There are at least 15 registered nurses from my hospital with SARS 
     (probable or suspected), to date, and 2 physicians. One of my nursing 
     colleagues is in the ICU, on a ventilator, although I have not received an 
     update as to her status. I was also informed last week that one of our 
     physicians is in the ICU at another hospital, in critical condition. Her 
     son came down with SARS and forced the closure and quarantine of his high 
     school, as he attended school for 3 days with SARS like symptoms.  

     This current outbreak is the fault of our hospital, and the directive to 
     relax isolation precautions. An excellent story related to that was on the 
     front page of the Toronto Star newspaper yesterday, where two nurses from 
     the emergency department where I work, reported to the press..under 
     condition of anonymity, that warnings from the nursing staff went unheeded.

     I will be going back to work tomorrow night, to a hospital that still 
     remains on  "code orange alert", closed to the general public. The only 
     patients that they are allowing to enter our emerg department is our staff,
     with SARS symptoms. Our ambulance bay has been converted into a SARS 
     clinic for the general public, to provide assessment and information 
     regarding the disease. If any member of the general public requires 
     hospitalization, they are directly admitted to our SARS ward, bypassing the
     emergency department.

     I will be very very glad when this is over, although I expect that I will 
     be wearing a mask for a very long time to come. The "new normal" in our 
     hospital, in fact in our city, will serve as an example to other 
     communities of how to, or how not to, deal with a similar disaster. My hope
     is that they can devise a vaccine or a treatment for SARS, although 
     realistically, I'm sure that will take years to accomplish. Our hospital 
     (North York General) has been appointed one of four hospitals in Toronto 
     designated to deal with SARS. The other hospitals will not accept SARS 
     patients. I guess that makes us pros in dealing with this problem, and it 
     makes sense that they will isolate the virus to only four institutions.
That's all for now,
Christine Gaspar


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