April 29, 2003

WRHA Establishes SARS Assessment Referral Clinic and Adds Staff at HealthLinks

A SARS assessment referral clinic is being established in Winnipeg where people who may meet the screening criteria for possible SARS can be referred by Health Links, or by their primary care physicians, for further assessment.

"The unit will only receive patients who have been screened for SARS, either by phone or in person by family physicians and walk-in clinics, or exclusively by phone through Health Links, to have their condition further assessed," says Dr. Sharon Macdonald, VP Community Care WRHA. "The intention is to reduce disruption across the health system and have a resource in place as a contingency, in case it is required."

A SARS line has been added to Health Links. People calling Health Links with general SARS-related questions or to discuss symptoms have access to staff specifically prepared to respond (Health Links 788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257).

" There are no suspect or probable cases of SARS in Manitoba at this time, and the situation in Toronto seems to be improving" says Dr. Joel Kettner, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Manitoba. "But we need to ensure that we are taking reasonable steps to protect our population."

More information is being sent to family doctors and throughout the health system in Winnipeg to reinforce the processes for managing SARS queries. "The message to the public is clear. If you think you might have SARS call your family doctor or Health Links. They can answer your questions, do a telephone assessment and direct you appropriately."

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