Superlative teamwork keeps the flu in check

Cleo Yu-Tiamco, Assistant Head Nurse on Short-Stay Medical Unit, cleans her hands.
Cleo Yu-Tiamco, Assistant Head Nurse on Short-Stay Medical Unit, cleans her hands.

One of the best ways to gauge the effectiveness of an individual or a team is to see how they cope during a crisis or high-stress situation. This was the challenge that was faced—and was ably met—by thousands of staff in January, when rates of the flu suddenly took a troubling leap upwards in facilities across CIUSSS West-Central Montreal.

Unfortunately, the flu has become as common a feature of winter as bone-chilling temperatures and mountains of curbside snow. However, I’m extremely heartened that this sense of familiarity did not lull us into dropping our guard or easing our sense of urgency when it finally did make its presence felt.

Under the guidance and expertise of Infection Prevention and Control, teams responded with speed and professionalism—notably, in the rehabilitation and long-term care centres, where the rates were high. They put preventive measures in place, contained the outbreaks, and minimized the impact on vulnerable residents, clients and patients.

At the same time, steps were taken to protect our employees, which is why we experienced no serious disruption in our delivery of health care and social services. It is to the credit of everyone in our CIUSSS that our flu statistics showed improvement almost as soon as we swung into action, and the numbers continued to decline nearly as steadily as they had risen.

Our success is all the more heartening if we pause to recall that the third anniversary of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is only a little more than a month away. In our formative weeks and months in 2015, one of our key goals was to become so well acquainted with one another that we would be able to provide care seamlessly, across multiple facilities. As we can see in our most recent response to the flu, we have come a long way toward achieving that goal.

My thanks go out to all members of staff for quickly grasping the risks and acting promptly to safeguard the health of our users and the well-being of their loved ones. After three years of working “under one roof,” we all recognize that certain challenges remain before us. However, our efforts over the past month clearly demonstrate how much can be achieved when we rise to the occasion.

Lawrence Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D.
President and CEO