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Assessment site to open in Estevan

Sun Country Health Region will open a flu assessment site in Estevan today at 2 p.m. to streamline the process for managing influenza-like illness and reduce some of the burden related to people visiting the emergency room department at St. Joseph’s Hospital. 

“At this time, this is only being set up at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan, not in the whole health region,” says Medical Health Officer, Dr. Shauna Hudson. “We have not yet reached the point where assessment centres are needed in other locations in the region,” she says.

Sun Country Health Region reported 50 cases of lab-confirmed H1N1 influenza within the region by Tuesday morning.

The lab-confirmed cases have been reported from 12 towns and two (2) cities.

 On Tuesday, ten (10) schools reported at least 10 per cent of their students were absent from school because of illness. Not all of the sickness is influenza-like illness.

Fifty four per cent of these cases were females and the average age of the lab-confirmed case is 17.99 years.

Twenty-nine cases are among people under 15 years of age. Two children were under one year of age. One child was 1-4 years of age. 10 children were 5-9 years and 16 were 10-14 years. 

“St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan has seen higher than usual activity in the emergency department last week and through the weekend. There was a smaller increase in emergency room visits for influenza-like illness at the Weyburn General Hospital over the weekend,” says Dr. Hudson.

The assessment site has been set up to reduce the pressure on the emergency room in the hospital. People with mild influenza-like symptoms visiting local physician clinics also will be redirected to the assessment centre.

The assessment site is intended for people with influenza-like illness to minimize the impact on the emergency room. Emergency rooms exist to deal with emergencies. An emergency is an immediate and serious risk to life or limb. For example: difficulty breathing, uncontrolled bleeding, chest pain, numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg.  

The assessment centre will be set up at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan. The centre will be staffed by professionals in Sun Country Health Region. It will be open from 2 – 5 p.m., until further notice.

The centre will help take the pressure off the emergency department at St. Joseph’s Hospital and the health care professionals providing care at the hospital, says Dr. Hudson.

“We knew that, at some point in a pandemic, we would need to ask people to change how they access care in our hospitals to have their conditions assessed. We are prepared for this possibility.”

Elective procedures and surgeries at St. Joseph’s have been postponed until further notice. People will be notified by St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Janice Giroux, Vice President Community Health, says some of the procedures normally provided at the St. Joseph outpatient emergency department may be diverted to the Sun Country Health Region Home Care department.  

People with mild illness should call Healthline at 1-877-800-0002 or and visit for information about caring for yourself or your family at home.  

For more information, please call Joanne Helmer, Communications Coordinator, 842-8353.

Released October 27, 2009 

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