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Critical Care Response to SARS in Toronto
The surge in critically ill patients strained the healthcare system. There was significant absenteeism due to ill or quarantined health care workers which resulted in ICU bed closures. Fear, and emotional stress further impacted critical care staff availability during this time.
Emotional support and psychological intervention was provided to all types and levels of ICU staff during the outbreak.

Tertiary care intensivists staffed at 24-hour call center to support and give advice to critical care providers throughout the city.
  • Telehealth/virtual care
  • Mental health services
  • Nurse Specialists*
  • Nurses - Licensed Practical
  • Nurses - Registered
  • Physicians - Specialists
A two-phase outbreak of SARS between March and June, 2003 occurred in Toronto, Ontario. During the outbreak 375 probable and suspected cases were reported in the province, the vast majority of which were patients, visitors, and healthcare workers who contracted it in Toronto hospitals.
  • Critical Care
  • Hospitals
  • Urban/Suburban
Communication and leadership were key components in the success of the response. Government sponsorship was provided to support the toll-free call line.
There was an absence of a coordinated leadership and communication infrastructure. Novel infectious disease prevention procedures had to be implemented, staff needed to be educated, research needed to be conducted to learn about SARS, and staff morale ...
Formal Strategy
Booth, C. M., & Stewart, T. E. (2005). Severe acute respiratory syndrome and critical care medicine: the Toronto experience. Critical care medicine, 33(1 Suppl), S53–S60.
Christopher M Booth
Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine and the Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, University of Toronto
Canada - Ontario
Canada
English
Published Literature

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