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Ontario Health Authorities Learning Dallas’ Mistakes: A Proactive Approach To Health & Safety

After two of the nurses who cared for Eric Thomas Duncan (the first to die of Ebola in the United States) tested positive for Ebola, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has started to take active measures to protect their healthcare workers from infection.

Additional personal protective equipment and training is now being provided to Dallas healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are also being monitored to ensure that they follow proper procedures when removing their personal protective equipment[1]. Furthermore, the hospital has provided a quarantine unit for any healthcare worker who has cared for an Ebola patient and wishes to isolate themselves as an added preventative measure.

The Ebola outbreak in Dallas demonstrates the negative consequences of having a reactive rather than a proactive approach to health and safety. In response to the Dallas outbreak, Canadian nurses have spoken out, demanding that Canada learn from Dallas’s mistakes and take a proactive approach to keeping our healthcare workers safe.

Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, began publically announcing the concerns her and other nurses shared of being unprepared for dealing with an Ebola outbreak in Canada. “We can learn from what happened in Dallas,” Linda Silas said, “hospitals need to do more to prepare and equip front line workers.[2]

Ontario Healthcare Authorities addressed the nurses’ concerns on the morning of Friday, October 17, 2014 in a press conference with Ontario Health Minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins. Hoskins statement assured Ontarians that Ontario is taking the necessary preventative measures to ensure that health and safety professionals are prepared for an Ebola outbreak. “My objective is to make sure that there’s no health-care worker in Ontario on the front lines that we’re asking to be part of our defense against Ebola, I don’t want a single health-care worker that feels that they are not adequately protected or secure or don’t have the equipment that they require,” Dr. Hoskins said[3].


During his statement, Hoskins highlighted the key areas that the ministry will be placing a heavier focus on to ensure that proactive preventative measures are being taken at all times. These include the following improvements:

  • Asking Ontario’s Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health to issue a directive to hospitals and other acute care settings about new personal protective equipment and training requirements as well as enhanced procedures for containing and treating Ebola.
  • Designating Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Hamilton Health Sciences, Health Sciences North, Hospital for Sick Children, Kingston General Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital, and University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital as the referral hospitals to treat potential cases of Ebola.
  • Enhancing the province’s inventory and availability of personal protective equipment, including ensuring the availability of N95 protective respirators.
  • Testing Ebola specimens at Public Health Ontario’s provincial labs starting on Monday October 20, 2014.
  • Creating a formal Minister’s Advisory Table on Ebola Preparedness which will include frontline workers and health care providers, and which will meet regularly to provide ongoing advice to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Creating an Ebola Command Table which will be chaired by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and which will include the Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Deputy Minister, Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Labour and other partner ministries and representatives from the province’s LHINs and designated referral hospitals, among others.
  • Assigning appropriately outfitted ambulances to transport potential cases of Ebola to the designated hospitals for treatment[4].

For the full news release visit: http://news.ontario.ca/mohltc/en/2014/10/province-enhancing-measures-to-prepare-for-ebola-virus-disease.html.

Healthcare workers can expect additional updates in the upcoming weeks and can be assured that the Ontario Health Authorities have learned from the mistakes made with 2003 SARS outbreak and 2014 Ebola outbreak in Dallas, and will proactively work hard to ensure that they are protected from infection.

To learn more about how your company can follow in the Ontario Health Authorities footsteps and take a proactive approach to your health and safety, visit: https://www.ecompliance.com/product/software/ or subscribe to our blog to receive regular health and safety updates.


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/us/dallas-nurse-ebola-patient.html?_r=1
[2] http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/health-minister-says-ontario-ready-to-deal-with-ebola-1.2056038
[3] http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/health-minister-says-ontario-ready-to-deal-with-ebola-1.2056038
[4] http://news.ontario.ca/mohltc/en/2014/10/province-enhancing-measures-to-prepare-for-ebola-virus-disease.html

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