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Pandemic planning

Toolkit for small, rural and northern hospitals

TORONTO – The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) has launched a Pandemic Planning Toolkit designed specifically for the province’s small, rural, and northern hospitals. The Toolkit was developed by the OHA in response to the unique issues and challenges faced by these hospitals in developing emergency response plans specific to an influenza pandemic.

“Geographic remoteness, long distances, low density populations, fewer providers, and inclement weather conditions are all factors impacting our small, rural, and northern hospitals’ ability to provide timely access to care,” said Tom Closson, OHA President and CEO. “Through this Toolkit, our small, rural and northern hospital leaders have access to practical resources that will support them in furthering the culture of safety and preparedness they are working so hard to attain in their organizations and communities.”

The Ontario Health Pandemic Influenza Plan (OHPIP), developed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, estimates that a moderate influenza pandemic could result in 15% to 35% of Ontario’s population falling ill.

It also reports that of those who become ill, approximately 53% will require outpatient or primary care, with 1.5% to 2% requiring hospitalization. The objectives of the Toolkit are to provide practical strategies, checklists and templates to assist small, rural, and northern hospitals with the development and implementation of their pandemic plans.

Information contained in the Toolkit includes:

• A chapter on Community Pandemic Planning and Response, outlining what pandemic planning could look like at the community level

• “Seven Steps to developing a Hospital Pandemic Plan”, which is outlined in the Hospital Pandemic Plan and Response chapter

• Details about what the various levels of government are doing to meet information needs, and about the tools that are offered to assist hospitals and other organizations in pandemic planning

• Guidelines and tools for developing service reduction, human resources, and equipment and supplies plans, as well as a communications strategy

“The OHA recognizes that planning efforts must not be in isolation and that we must take a community-based approach to pandemic planning to ensure coordination and cooperation across sectors,” said Closson. “Our Toolkit is designed with this in mind, and we hope that it will also be useful in addressing the pandemic planning issues of our healthcare and business partners across the system.”

Every hospital in Ontario has been provided with a copy of the Toolkit to help guide their pandemic influenza planning activities. Additional hard copies of the toolkit can be ordered online by visiting the OHA’s website at and going to “Communications – Publications for Sale – Publication No.319” or by calling 416-205-1350.