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The Unsung Heroes (RNS) Battle Against SARS in Hemodialysis Setting

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In early 2003, cases of SARS had surfaced around the world. The vast majority happened in China, Hong Kong, and Canada. In Toronto, the individual who manifested symptoms of SARS after visiting China died on March 22, 2003. A few days later SARS was declared a provincial emergency. Corona virus, the causative agent, is not well known. Its transmission and mutation had to be researched. Shortly thereafter, clusters of people were showing symptoms of the virus. There were 258 probable cases of SARS by May 14. The Ontario Ministry of Health and health care providers took steps to contain the virus, isolating those who were exposed and adopting new infection control procedures. On May 17, the provincial emergency was lifted. On May 25, there was a new wave of SARS cases (2nd outbreak). This was traced back to an RN who worked in a non-SARS unit. Nurses working directly with SARS were faced with very challenging times. SARS was a huge concern and impacted all health care professionals. The hemodialysis unit was no exception. After all, dialysis patients are already immunocompromised, mostly elderly, and frequent visits to the hospital make them more susceptible to the virus. Objective: 

To identify how hemodialysis nurses were impacted by the SARS outbreak and the nursing management to control the disease. Method: 

Saint Michael's Hospital in Toronto took a leadership role and became one of the SARS Tertiary Response Team. Four hemodialysis nurses were designated as trainers to train the other staff regarding infection prevention and control. Measures were in place such as: (a) strict screening methods for patients, staff, and visitors; (b) mask fitting for all staff; (c) use of PPE (protective protection equipment) (d) use of Hospital ID bar code for staff to declare themselves free of SARS. Results/Conclusion: 

On August 25, there was only one probable case and there was no evidence of transmission of the virus in the hemodialysis unit. As for the nurses and all the unsung heroes who always put the needs and safety of their patients ahead of themselves, they continue to be dedicated in maintaining quality patient care even in the face of crisis or in an environment of fear.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Saint Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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