‘We are prepared’: Officials adamant Ontario hospitals ready for Ebola

Watch above: Canadian nurses says our health care system is not ready for Ebola. Sean Mallen reports. 

TORONTO – Ontario’s Minister of Health says the province is prepared to treat any potential cases of Ebola in the province on the same day Canadian nurses highlighted concerns about the state of preparedness in Ontario’s hospitals.

“I don’t want a single healthcare worker that feels they are not adequately protected, secure or don’t have the equipment they require,” Hoskins said during an afternoon press conference, adding the risk of someone contracting ebola in Canada remains low.

Eight people in the province, including one in Toronto, have been tested for the disease after showing flu-like symptoms and recently being in West Africa. None tested positive for Ebola.

Toronto Western Hospital has been designated as the province’s hospital that will test patients returning from disease-ridden countries to be tested for Ebola.

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Hoskins said he has a meeting with federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose Wednesday evening to work out new guidelines for training of healthcare workers.

Watch: Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care says Ontario is prepared to treat any potential cases of Ebola, but the way to keep Ontarians safe is keeping health care workers safe.

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The health minister’s statements come in the wake of a written statement from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions which raised concerns about whether or not frontline healthcare workers were prepared.

“As of yesterday there were around 10 test cases or false alarms—across Canada,” said Linda Silas, whose organization represents nurses across the country. “We have to iron out those mistakes before the first patient walks in the door.”

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She said scientists and bureaucrats have been meeting for months to form policy but worries those ideas won’t get to frontline workers fast enough.

“What our nurses are saying is they are not fit-tested for the equipment yet,” she said.

And the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario says it’s members have complained about a lack of a provincial strategy.

Watch: Ontario Chief medical officer confident in systems to keep health care workers safe from Ebola

Spokesperson Doris Grinspun said nurses at two Ontario hospitals have complained they received no instructions or education about how to deal with the disease.

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But Hoskins and Ontario’s Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Mowat said Wednesday the lessons learned from the SARS outbreak in 2003 have helped the province prepare for any infectious disease.

“We must be prepared and we are prepared,” Mowat said. “In the decade since SARS we’ve strengthened our system, updated our facilities, put in training for personnel… additional personnel have been provided to public health agencies for infection control and we’ve established public health Ontario to provide the very best scientific advice on these issues.”

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