Category Archives: News Release

Protecting Yourself Against Hantavirus

Residents reminded to take precautions this spring

Spring is upon us and many have already begun spring cleaning processes. Please be reminded of the potential for exposure to Hantavirus.

Hantavirus is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Most cases occur in the spring during cleaning when people may breathe in air borne particles. It is especially important to take precautions while cleaning areas where mice or mouse droppings are present including homes, sheds, barns, cabins, and stored vehicles/equipment.

Early symptoms of Hantavirus are similar to the flu but can quickly develop into severe breathing problems.  In some cases Hantavirus infection can be fatal. If a person is infected the disease appears within one to five weeks. Initial symptoms include fever, body aches, and abdominal problems but can progress to severe trouble breathing. Anyone who develops difficulty breathing and has recently been in an area contaminated by rodents should see a doctor immediately.

The most effective precaution against infection is to keep rodents out of homes and work areas and immediately trap any that get in.

If you find signs of mice, properly clean and disinfect any areas contaminated by rodent droppings. To do so properly follow these steps:

  1. Wear rubber or plastic gloves. If you are cleaning in a confined space, wear a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered respirator.
  2. Do not sweep or vacuum rodent droppings. This will release particles into the air, which you could then breathe in.
  3. Spray droppings with a household disinfectant or a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water. Let the area soak for 10 minutes to make sure any virus within the droppings will be killed.
  4. Wipe up wet droppings with paper towels or a wet mop if dealing with a large area.
  5. Wash gloves in disinfectant and hot soapy water before taking them off.  Afterwards, wash your hands thoroughly.
  6. If a wet mop was used to clean the area, use disinfectant and hot soapy water to clean the mop.

For more information on Hantavirus, visit or

Top Baby Names in Saskatchewan for 2016

The top 20 baby names for 2016 were released by eHealth Saskatchewan today.  Liam was the most popular name for baby boys for the seventh year in a row, and Olivia and Emma tied for the most popular name for baby girls.

The second most popular boy name was Oliver and the third most popular girl name was Ava.  There were 73 baby boys named Liam in 2016, followed by William, Oliver, Noah and Benjamin.  There were 78 baby girls named Olivia and Emma, followed by Ava, Emily, Amelia and Sophia.

Most Popular Baby Names in Saskatchewan for 2016 | News and Media | Government of Saskatchewa.

In 2016, 15,674 live births were registered in Saskatchewan, an increase of 177 from the number of births registered in 2015, which totalled 15,497.  These numbers do not include Saskatchewan mothers who gave birth outside of the province.

For more information on the most popular baby names, and to see the lists of the popular names from previous years, visit the eHealth Saskatchewan’s website at

Mumps Confirmed in Cypress Health Region

Positive lab results received from the National Medical Laboratory in Winnipeg have confirmed the presence of mumps within the Cypress Health Region.  The Region is currently reporting three confirmed cases and a fourth suspected case, affecting both youth and adult individuals.

Mumps activity has been reported across Canada, with a number of recently identified cases in Alberta and Manitoba including individuals within the hockey community.  The confirmed cases within Cypress Health also include individuals from the hockey community.

Mumps is an acute viral infection characterized by painful swelling of the glands on one or both sides of the jaw.  Mumps can also affect the reproductive organs sometimes with long term complications.Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, sore throat, vomiting, tiredness and loss of appetite.  Symptoms can appear 14-25 days following the original exposure and the virus can be unknowingly transmitted to others during that time.

The mumps virus can be easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or being in contact with another person’s saliva.  Transmission is more likely in crowded environments and with close contact such as classrooms, sporting events, bars, and dormitory living.

“Mumps can be quite a painful illness to go through and un-immunized cases have more severe symptoms than immunized individuals and likely with more complications,” commented Dr. Torr, Medical Health Officer for Cypress Health.  “It is key that individuals are up to date with their immunizations, most especially at this time those involved in sports, including players, coaches, volunteers, parents, and others.  A significant number of cases across the country, and locally, have been associated with sports gatherings.  We are encouraging children and adults to make sure they are up to date with their immunizations. Those born before 1970 are likely to have acquired natural immunity. Those born after 1970 should make sure that they are up to date with their immunizations, and if not, should contact public health to get up to date.”

Dr. Torr recommends a variety of measures that can help to reduce the spread of the mumps virus:

Vaccination is essential – infants and children receive protection as part of their MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) immunizations; teenagers and adults can contact their local public health office to check their immunization status and schedule an appointment for a booster if required.

  • Individuals suspected of having mumps or mump-like symptoms should stay away from childcare, school, post-secondary settings, sporting and social events, and workplaces for at least five days after onset of symptoms.
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid sharing eating utensils, water bottles, drinks, and lipsticks with others.
  • Call ahead before going to your physician, so they can prepare to see you without exposing others.

“In addition frequent hand hygiene, especially when at events or public places, not sharing eating and drinking utensils, and toys for daycares are all key measures that help reduce spread of infection. Of course, those ill with mumps symptoms should get checked by their health practitioner and stay at home whilst recovering,” Dr. Torr added.

For more information on the mumps virus and immunization status, please contact your local Public Health office, call Toll-Free at 1-866-786-2510, visit your family physician/nurse practitioner’s clinic or visit and search mumps.  Please visit for more mumps facts.  The provincial HealthLine can also be contacted 24 hours per day by calling 811 for any non-urgent health questions.

Mumps Activity Reported in Several Provinces

Several provinces, including Manitoba and Alberta, are reporting mumps. Transmission has occurred in the context of sports activities and bar scenes in young adults; however, in Manitoba, mumps is now being reported in all ages throughout the province.

Mumps Activity in Canada: Manitoba has been reporting cases of mumps since September 2016; British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia are also reporting cases.  The outbreak in Manitoba began with a university sports team and now is being reported in all ages throughout the province.  Saskatchewan is not experiencing an outbreak of mumps.  There have been no cases of mumps reported in Saskatchewan to date in 2017 and two reported cases of mumps were reported in 2016.

Mumps is an acute viral infection characterized by unilateral or bilateral tender, self-limited swelling of the parotid or other salivary glands.  Symptoms may be mild and include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.  Up to 30% of infections may be asymptomatic and symptoms occur 14 to 25 days following exposure.

The mumps virus replicates in the upper respiratory tract and is spread through contact with respiratory secretions or saliva.  Transmission is more likely in crowed environments and with close contact such as classrooms, sporting events, bars, and dormitory living.

Risks in Saskatchewan:  

  • An immunization coverage rate of 75% to 86% is required to stop/interrupt transmission – our coverage rates range from 59% (at 13 months) to 89.5% (at 17 years).
  • University students, including international students and athletes, may not have had 2-doses of mumps-containing vaccine, creating conditions for disease transmission.
  • Under-immunization or no immunization increases the risk of transmission.
  • Mumps-containing vaccine (i.e. MMR) was introduced in Saskatchewan in 1979. Individuals born between 1979 and 1990 may have only received one dose.
  • Risk increases the longer and the closer a person comes into contact with someone who has mumps.

To help reduce the spread of the mumps virus:

  • Vaccination is recommended.
  • Keep people suspected of having mumps from childcare, school, post-secondary settings and workplaces for at least 5 days after onset of parotitis and for 9 days if symptoms persist.
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid kissing or sharing eating utensils, water bottles, drinks, and lipsticks.

For more information on the mumps virus and immunizations contact the Public Health Office or call the HealthLine at 811.

Construction Underway in Leader

Capital Project to Expand Western Senior Citizens Home Underway

The construction site adjacent to the Western Senior Citizens Home in Leader, SK is now a hub of activity as construction crews have mobilized and started to create a strong foundation for the $12 million expansion project.

Contractors and sub-contractors of Wright Construction Western have fenced off the construction area and welcomed the first trade, the pilings contractor, on site January 31.  Pilings are deep cylindrical holes dug into the ground that are then filled with strong materials, such as concrete, to provide a strong foundation for a structure to be built on top of them.  Piling work has been taking place throughout February and is anticipated to be completed by the end of month (depending on frost depths).  After the completion of pilings, construction of grade beams will closely follow with grade beam materials now beginning to arriving on-site.

“It is obviously very exciting to see crews on site beginning to construct this much needed project that will bring all of the community’s health services under one roof,” noted Brenda Schwan, Capital Lead and Vice President of Continuing Care for Cypress Health.  “This project has been a priority for our Region and the entire community for the past several years.  Seeing it now progress to the beginning stages of construction is a very satisfying achievement for everyone involved.”

Originally announced in September, 2014, the project will result in all health services available in the Town of Leader being offered in a single, integrated facility.  Currently health services are divided between the existing Western Senior Citizens Home, the Leader Hospital, the Leader Primary Health Care site, and a separate ambulance garage. The expansion will include universal care treatments rooms, a therapies suite, acute care inpatient rooms, one isolation room offering a new service to the community that is not currently available, one trauma/emergency room, lab/x-ray service centre, and EMS.

Planning and design work for the expansion has been completed with collaborative input from project partners including aodbt architecture, Leader health services staff, physicians, patient and family representatives, primary health care clinic team members, community members, and others.  A series of quality improvement tools have been used in the design’s development including a Value Stream Mapping event held in December 2014 and a 3P (Production, Preparation, Process) event held in January, 2015.  Combined with earlier development work, these have led to an inclusive design that will meet the needs of all users.

“In our planning stages we looked at things like flows of patients moving throughout the facility, walking distances for staff, and how best to maximize the new spaces so that rooms and supplies are in the locations that make the most sense,” added Schwan.  “In the end we have a design that we are very confident will meet the needs of the community for many years to come and we look forward to continuing to watch as the facility is built.”

The project is funded through the traditional 80/20 split funding formula with the provincial government contributing $9.6 million towards the project with the remaining $2.4 million raised by local municipalities.  The Region extends its appreciation to the government and the many municipalities who have contributed their share while also providing funding for necessary equipment and furnishing costs.

The anticipated construction completion date of the project is in the summer of 2018.

An on-site construction camera has been ordered and will be installed in the very near future.  The camera will be located at the construction site, capturing and archiving images of the expansion project as it is erected. Once installed the camera will be posted on the Health Region’s website and will be available for viewing 24 hours per day.

Respiratory Illnesses Circulating in Several Communities

There is a noted increase in respiratory activity in the Cypress Health Region, including influenza.  The general public is being reminded to take precautions and implement safeguards to protect themselves and those around them.

The Herbert and District Integrated Healthcare Facility and Shaunavon Hospital and Care Centre have both been placed under outbreak status due to the presence of respiratory illnesses.  Optimal infection control precautions are in place at both facilities as the Region awaits lab results to determine further measures that may be necessary.  Visitation restrictions have been put in place during these outbreaks to minimize illness being brought into or carried out of the facility. The outbreaks in Herbert and Shaunavon affect long-term care services only; acute and emergency services remain available at both facilities.

“We are seeing notable respiratory activity in our communities, from influenza and other viruses, and are implementing measures to minimize spread of these illnesses in our facilities.  We ask that the public take similar steps in their homes and businesses including frequent and thorough hand hygiene, coughing into your sleeve or tissue, regular cleaning of surfaces that are commonly handled and easily contaminated, and staying home when ill unless seeking medical attention,” commented Dr. David Torr, Medical Health Officer for Cypress Health.  “Some respiratory illnesses can be quite severe, especially in those who are most vulnerable.  While these illnesses may be seen as minor in the eyes of some, they can actually be quite harmful and even deadly to other members of the community.”

Respiratory viruses are contagious.  They are easily spread by coughing, sneezing, and direct contact through nasal and throat secretions.  Symptoms include fever and chills, cough, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, and a runny or stuffy nose.

Immunization is an important step to protect yourself and those around you.

“This year’s flu vaccine is well matched to the circulating strains of influenza.  The number of individuals who have received their vaccine is less than it has been in past years.  This puts the broader public at greater risk and we once again urge those who have not yet received their influenza immunization to do so as soon as they can,” Dr. Torr added.

Individuals can receive a flu vaccine by calling Public Health at 1-866-786-2510 or by attending a drop-in clinic in Swift Current. Drop-in dates and details are posted at on the events page.

In addition to immunization other measures to protect yourself include proper hand hygiene with warm water and soap, staying home when ill unless seeking medical attention, coughing and sneezing into your sleeve or the crook of your elbow, and frequently cleaning commonly touched surfaces.  Parents with young children should wash their hands thoroughly before and after changing a diaper.  Hand sanitizers should not be used as a complete replacement for proper hand hygiene.

Safety Management System – Built to enhance safety of patients, staff, and others

New safety system built to enhance safety of patients, staff, and others

A redesigned Safety Management System (SMS) is being rolled out to facilities throughout the Cypress Health Region. The new SMS has been built to improve safety for employees and all individuals interacting with the health system.

A Safety Management System is a framework and tool to help organizations meet their legal obligations under Occupational Health and Safety law. Traditionally this has been achieved through a Certificate of Recognition model commonly used in the construction industry. The new SMS aims to evolve the overall safety culture with an end goal of less injuries and greater awareness that all users interacting with the health system have specific safety responsibilities and accountabilities.

“Safety is the top value of our Region and redesigning our Safety Management System is an important step towards the achievement of a culture of safety that protects not only our staff, but also considers every user who interacts with the health system,” commented Jeff Schwan, Director of Occupational Health for the Cypress Health Region.

The redesigned system factors in the safety rights and responsibilities of employees, patients/clients/residents, volunteers and visitors, contractors, students, physicians and medical residents, and vendors/suppliers. The Cypress Health Region is the first health authority in the province to incorporate all users of the health system into its SMS. The effort to develop a comprehensive system was a joint initiative between the Region and the Saskatchewan Association for Safe Workplaces in Saskatchewan (SASHW).

“The foundations of this new system encourage individuals to identify unsafe behaviors while also making well informed safety decisions throughout the day. We know through our incident reporting processes that unfortunately injuries are happening in our facilities on a regular basis and one injury is too many,” added Schwan. “To adopt a true culture of safety we believe that we need to build our SMS around everyone, not just our staff. If our staff aren’t safe we know that our patients won’t be safe either and vice versa.”

The correlation between the safety of healthcare workers and system users has been well documented in recent years. The creation of a SMS built around the safety needs of all individuals is a marked change from traditional safety systems that focus solely on employees.
The Region’s decision to redesign its approach to safety spurs from a mandate by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health to reduce the number of on-the-job injuries for healthcare workers. Injury rates of healthcare workers continue to be amongst the highest of any industry in Saskatchewan.

Work on redesigning the SMS has been a regional focus for several months and has been broken down into six elements. The first element, management commitment and leadership, was completed at the end of 2016 and produced a series of important documents: safety rules; three rights, responsibilities and accountabilities of all individuals; an updated safety charter; and promotion of the Region’s safety logo.
The five documents created for element one were prepared with input from Patient and Family Centred Care representatives, staff, management, members of the Cypress Regional Health Authority board, and SEIU-West.

With work completed on the first element the Region is now rolling out the Safety Management System to all of its facilities. Focus has shifted towards elements two, three, and four which include hazard identification and control, training and communications, and inspections. Finally, elements five and six which focus on incident reporting, investigations, and emergency response, will be completed.
For more information on the Cypress Health Region Safety Management System please visit our SMS webpage.

Yellow Fever Vaccine Shortage in North America – Travellers to South America and Africa Warned

North America is currently experiencing a shortage of the vaccine for Yellow Fever, which may extend until 2018. This shortage of vaccine may affect travel plans for individuals planning trips to South America and Africa.

Until this shortage is resolved by the manufacturer, clinics will be carefully managing and monitoring current supply levels and are implementing guidelines on use of existing vaccine supply.

Throughout this shortage, vaccine may not be available for the following individuals:

  • Anyone who has received Yellow Fever vaccine in the past are now considered protected for life. It is important to find and keep your immunization history documents for border proof.
  • Individuals travelling to an area where Yellow Fever vaccine is “Generally Not Recommended”, due to low risk. Risk of transmission of Yellow Fever does not necessarily occur throughout an entire country. This is important to consider when planning travel to countries where risk of Yellow Fever transmission is present (eg. Brazil).
  • Individuals who are travelling to areas where there is no risk of Yellow Fever transmission, but where proof of Yellow Fever vaccination is an “Entry Requirement”. In Saskatchewan, Yellow Fever certified clinics are located in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert and can provide appropriate documentation for entry purposes.
  • Yellow Fever vaccine and certificates are not and have never been available in the Cypress Health Region.

Yellow Fever is a disease transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. It gets its name from the yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice) that occurs when the virus attacks the liver. Initial symptoms include fever, chills, headache, joint and muscle pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, dehydration, and others. Most patients will recover after this stage, however more severe cases can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and organ failure. These more severe symptoms occur in approximately 15% of patients with Yellow Fever.

If you have not booked your travel, please determine if Yellow Fever vaccination is required for your trip. You can access this information from the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Saskatchewan Residents Reminded to Get a Flu Shot

Government of Saskatchewan News Release

Health officials are reminding residents it’s not too late to get a flu shot as influenza activity picks up across Canada and Saskatchewan.

“We have seen an increase in influenza cases in the last couple of weeks, and we expect flu activity will continue through March,” Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. “I encourage everyone to get a flu shot if they haven’t already. This season’s vaccine is a good match for circulating strains, including H3N2.”
There were 590 lab-confirmed influenza cases in Saskatchewan between September and January 7, with a spike of 175 cases during the last week of December.

The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone six months and older, and is especially important for people who are most at risk of serious illness from influenza: seniors, children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.

The publicly-funded (free) flu vaccine is available from many pharmacies across the province, some physician offices, and public health clinics. Pharmacists can only immunize adults and children nine years of age and older who have a valid Saskatchewan health card. Children under nine need to be vaccinated at a public health clinic or physician office.

For information on public health clinic schedules:

For a list of pharmacies that provide the free flu shot, check the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan website (, or inquire at your local pharmacy.

As of December 31, an estimated 238,830 flu vaccine doses were administered in Saskatchewan – 64 per cent by public health nurses and other providers, and 36 per cent by pharmacists.

For more information on influenza immunization in Saskatchewan visit For information on influenza symptoms or when to seek care, call HealthLine 811 or visit



Transition to Single Provincial Health Authority Underway

News Release from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health:
Administrative Cost Savings Being Identified

Work is underway to consolidate the 12 existing Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) to a single Provincial Health Authority, anticipated to occur in fall 2017.

“As work begins on the transition, our goal is to ensure implementation occurs seamlessly and that the needs of patients are always our top priority,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said. “This is a significant change and there is a lot of work to be done. Our government is taking a thoughtful and planned approach to ensure this is done right.”

A transition team is being assembled that will include Ministry of Health, clinical and health system leaders. The team is tasked with developing a comprehensive plan to implement the new Provincial Health Authority. Along with a new governance and management structure, the team will be considering the consolidation of health system administration and clinical support services, and the potential savings associated with consolidation. The potential savings associated with consolidation are currently estimated in the range of $10-20 million by 2018-19.

Examples of potential savings include:

  • Moving from 12 Boards to a single Board will save approximately $700,000 a year in Board governance costs.
  • Approximately $160 million per year is spent on information technology across the health system (RHAs, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, eHealth Saskatchewan and 3sHealth). Consolidation of information technology for RHAs provides the opportunity to save approximately $9 million per year.

A reduction in salary expenses for senior executive level positions across RHAs is also anticipated. An estimated dollar value will be determined as transition planning develops a new Provincial Health Authority structure.

“We are in the beginning stages of the transition process, so the potential cost savings range is a very early estimate,” Reiter said. “There will be costs associated with implementation in the first year, including some severance, with savings anticipated to begin in 2018.”

“While cost savings will be the product of improved co-ordination and integration of health care services, it is not the primary objective. The move to a single Provincial Health Authority is being driven by our government’s continued commitment to improving front-line patient care for people across the province.”

For more information, contact:

Tyler McMurchy

Health –  Regina

Phone: 306-787-4083