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News Release

Long-term care facilities recognized for flu protection

Oct 07, 2011
Twenty-nine long-term care facilities have spent the last 12 months engaged in a friendly competition to increase the number of staff members immunized against influenza.

Twenty-nine long-term care facilities have spent the last 12 months engaged in a friendly competition to increase the number of staff members immunized against influenza.

At a recognition event held Tuesday, October 4, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and North Simcoe Muskoka Infection Prevention and Control Network presented certificates recognizing high immunization rates in the Simcoe Muskoka Influenza Immunization Challenge.

Of the participating facilities, 20 were recognized for gold, silver or bronze-level achievements. Six facilities received certificates for achieving the gold standard of staff immunization rates of 90 per cent or higher. Eight received silver awards for having rates between 80 and 89 per cent, while the bronze award, for achieving rates between 70 and 79 per cent, was presented to six facilities.

There has been a recent decline in immunization against influenza among health care workers in Ontario.

Numerous studies have shown that influenza transmission to patients is linked to low immunization rates among health care workers, said guest speaker Dr. Allison McGeer, the director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital and an expert on preventing infection in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

“Influenza is an occupational risk for health care providers,” Dr. McGeer said. “Vaccinating health care workers protects them from illness and complications; equally importantly, it decreases the risk of serious illness and death in the patients they care for.”

McGeer noted a series of British research projects that calculated the number of long-term care facility deaths that were prevented during flu season when staff were vaccinated. Their calculations showed up to 44% reduction in mortality.

“The truth of the matter is that in long-term care facilities, if just eight health care workers are vaccinated, you prevent a death,” she said. “So should all staff be vaccinated? Definitely.”

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has been working with health care partners to increase the levels of immunization in hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the region. The local challenge is part of province-wide efforts to increase influenza vaccine uptake rates among health care workers.

Annual immunization against influenza is the most effective means of reducing the impact of this disease.

 “These facilities have set a benchmark for all health care institutions in Simcoe and Muskoka, and it has been particularly encouraging to see them pick up the challenge with such enthusiasm,” said Dr. Lisa Simon, associate medical officer of health with the health unit. “When health care workers get their flu shots, they are not only protecting themselves but also their patients or residents. It shows a dedication to these populations they care for, who are particularly vulnerable to the complications of influenza.”

Dr. Simon pointed out that immunization rates among long-term care residents are normally quite high. She was very pleased that all long-term care facilities in Simcoe and Muskoka participated in the challenge this year and worked hard to increase their staff immunization rates.

 “These institutions have shown a very positive commitment to reducing the health burden caused by influenza,” Dr. Simon said. “In the coming year we will be extending an invitation to Simcoe and Muskoka’s hospitals to join the challenge. The health unit will be throwing its support behind all their efforts to improve influenza immunization rates to protect the health of their patients.”

 

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List of award recipients for 2010-2011


Gold awards

Leisureworld Creedan Valley

Bay Haven Nursing Home

Collingwood Nursing Home

Hillcrest Village

I.O.O.F. Senior Citizen Homes Inc.

Victoria Village Manor

 

Silver awards

Good Samaritan Nursing Home

Villa Care Centre

Oak Terrace Long-term Care Residence

Leisure World Muskoka

Sunset Manor

Leisureworld Orillia

Woods Park Care Centre

Bob Rumball Home for the Deaf


Bronze awards

Coleman Health Care Centre

Fairvern Nursing Home

Roberta Place

Leacock Care Centre

Sara Vista Nursing Home

Georgian Manor


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