2017-2018 InFLUenza Season

Residents encouraged to get immunized before the end of public clinics

As infuenza season continues, Cypress Health Region residents are encouraged to receive their free influenza immunization. The Region’s seasonal influenza immunization campaign began on October 23 and will run until November 25th.

Immunizations are the best way to protect yourself, your family, and those around you from influenza. Influenza immunization is currently available, free of charge, to all Saskatchewan residents six months of age and older.

“Influenza is more serious than the common cold and can cause significant illness, even death, especially in more vulnerable populations. We strongly urge members of the public to get immunized and help minimize illness and complications in our communities,” commented Dr. David Torr, Medical Health Officer for the Health Region.

Influenza activity in Saskatchewan is increasing. The percentage of laboratory tests positive for influenza remains higher for this time of year compared to previous seasons. The majority of influenza detections are for influenza A (H3N2). The vaccine available this year offers protection against the influenza A (H3N2) and three other strains of the influenza virus.

As of November 9, 2017 there have been approximately 5,800 immunizations provided through the Cypress Health Region’s mass immunization clinics. Additional doses have been administered by pharmacies and physician offices and are not included in this figure.
For more information about influenza and the ongoing influenza immunization program including clinic dates, times and locations please visit www.cypressshealth.ca/influenza

First Renovated Wing Completed in Leader as Capital Construction Project Continues

The capital expansion project in Leader, including various renovations and enhancements to the interior of the existing long-term care side of the facility, continues to reach new construction milestones and remains on schedule to open its doors as the Leader and District Integrated Healthcare Facility in summer 2018.

The first of three wings to undergo renovations at the Western Senior Citizens Home was completed on October 27 with residents re-occupying the wing on October 30.  The completed work included safety improvements with the installation of ceiling lifts, a new handheld nurse call system, and improved hand rails.  New LED lighting, paint, curtains, and flooring were also installed. The small-house model of care is being introduced, promoting resident choice and addressing known challenges with traditional long-term care delivery models such as loneliness and boredom.

Edna Dieterle and Art Trautwein, residents at the Western Senior Citizens Home, expressed their satisfaction.

“We are pleased with the new renovations. The rooms seem to be bigger and we like the new dining area that is smaller with fewer people. It allows for good conversation and a feeling of closeness,” they shared.

“The ten residents to move back into our first completed wing were very happy to see their new space and were excited with their new kitchen and dining areas,” commented Brenda Schwan, Vice President Continuing Care and Capital Project Lead.  “Residents have found the new look to be fresh and the atmosphere very welcoming.”

Renovation work has now shifted to the west wing and nursing station area. Each wing takes approximately 10-12 weeks for renovations to be completed.

Meanwhile the $12 million capital construction attached to the Western Senior Citizens Home continues to progress. Recent activity has included the installation of roof cap sheeting to create a water tight surface, ongoing ductwork, electrical, and plumbing services including mechanical systems, and the final enclosures of the building including exterior door installations.  The majority of internal wall studding has been completed and gypsum boarding (drywall) is scheduled to begin next week.  External cladding is also being installed.

When the expansion project and renovation work is completed the facility will be renamed, as decided by community members, the Leader and District Integrated Healthcare Facility.  It will be the sole location of all of the community’s health services bringing together acute care, emergency medical services, community health services, primary health care, and long-term care.  The facility’s design incorporates input from staff, physicians, patients, and family representatives.

A construction camera remains in place to document progress and captures a new birds-eye image of the site every 15 minutes.

Western Senior Citizens Home after renovations completed
Western Senior Citizens Home before renovations completed
The new dining and kitchen area promotes a small-house model of care delivery
Interior photo of the capital construction project, showing completed steel stud work

Wild Fire and Evacuation Situation – Leader Long Term Care Residents Return to Western Senior Citizens Home

Update: 2:05pm October 19

All residents have arrived back in Leader safely and are settling in!

Our emergency operations centre has been revoked.

Update: 11:00am October 19

Great news! With power back on and all necessary clearances now in place, long term care residents from Leader are now able to return home to the Western Senior Citizens Home.  Our plans to transport residents are underway.  We anticipate everyone to be home safe and sound sometime between 12:00pm and 2:00pm.

Plans are also being finalized to return acute inpatients back to the Leader Hospital when medically able to do so.  The status of returning all hospital patients back to Leader will be handled case-by-case.

We thank our patients, residents, family members, staff, and others involved in this evacuation situation for the patience and understanding that has been extended.  While this situation was not ideal, safety is always our top priority.

Update: 1:25pm October 18

We have made the decision that long term care residents of the Western Senior Citizens Home in Leader will remain at The Meadows in Swift Current for the remainder of Wednesday including overnight.  This will be re-evaluated on Thursday morning to determine when it is safe to return to Leader.

Power outages are still in place in many areas of southwest Saskatchewan including Leader.  Timelines for power to be restored are not currently known.

The safety of our residents and staff is the top priority.  It is safest to remain in Swift Current until power is fully restored.

Our health facilities are equipped with backup generators to provide short term emergency power supply in the event of outage. Backup generators are not stable power sources and cannot be relied on for extended periods of time.

We recognize that being away from home for any longer than necessary is not ideal.  We will relocate long term care residents back to the Western Senior Citizens Home as soon as is safe to do so.

Residents will continue to be cared for, including food, drink, medications, and other necessities, by staff from The Meadows and some staff from Leader who have travelled with residents.

Update: 12:05pm, October 18

The Leader Hospital has re-opened with limited services. Emergency outpatient services are now available. Dial 9-1-1 in medical emergency.

Update: 10:20am, October 18

Evacuations in Leader and Burstall are removed, however power is still out in Leader and may be for some time. We are working on plans to re-open the Leader Hospital as soon as possible. Emergency services remain available by dialing 9-1-1.

Update: 9:10am, October 18

We are continuing to evaluate the Leader evacuation and the next steps for long term care residents and hospital patients who were brought to Swift Current. Updates will be provided throughout the day today.

We emphasize that all long term care residents and hospital patients are safe. Family members of evacuated long term care residents may call 306-770-2100 for more information on their loved one.

Update: 8:50 am

Forest Fire Smoke and Your Health Fact Sheet

Updates will continue to be shared on our social media channels and on our website.

Update: 11:50pm

We will continue to monitor the wild fire situation throughout the night. We will contact all long term care resident family members Wednesday morning to provide an update on loved ones. Some staff from Leader have travelled into Swift Current with our residents and will be with them throughout the night.

Our medical health officer, occupational health, and public health staff will continue to monitor the situation at our health facilities in Leader. We will look to transport long term care residents and hospital patients back to Leader as soon as it is safe to do so.

Updates will continue to be shared on our social media channels and on our website.

Update: 9:55pm

All long term care residents and hospital patients from Leader, who were evacuated due to the wild fires near Burstall and area, have arrived safely in Swift Current and are settling in.

We continue to monitor the active wild fire situation and are continuing with our emergency operations centre.

Update: 8:15pm

Our facilities in Leader have been safely evacuated.  The Leader Hospital is currently closed.  Anyone remaining in the area with a medical emergency is asked to dial 9-1-1.

Arrangements are in place at The Meadows and Cypress Regional Hospital to receive the long term care residents and hospital patients that are in transport.

See below for prior information and details.

Update: 6:15pm

The Town of Leader is also being evacuated due to wildfire.

We are immediately evacuating all long term care residents at the Western Senior Citizens Home in Leader and acute inpatients at the Leader Hospital.

All long term care residents and hospital inpatients are being safely transported out of Leader.

Long term care residents from Leader are being transported to The Meadows in Swift Current.  Acute inpatients from the Leader Hospital are being transported by ambulance to the Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current.  Family members are being contacted directly.

More information will be posted as it’s available.


Original post:

The community of Burstall is under an immediate evacuation order due to a wild fire.

We have evoked our Emergency Operations Centre to respond to the emergency.  Plans are underway.

Updates will be posted to this page as they are available.

For the latest details on the emergency alert please visit the Saskatchewan emergency alerts page.

Precautionary Drinking Water Advisory – Village of Climax

The Water Security Agency has issued Precautionary Drinking Water Advisory (PDWA) notices to all residents and users of the public water supply in the Village of Climax. The Village of Climax advisory is in effective at 8:00am on Wednesday, October 18 and is due to a water main replacement causing a  depressurized system.

The PDWA in the Village of Climax will remain in effect until the safety of the  water systems can be ensured at all times. This will include power being restored, stable chlorine/turbidity levels, and bacteriological sample tests that show negative results for bacterial growth in the final treated potable water being supplied.

Updates on PDWA’s:

  • Frontier was rescinded on Oct. 25, 2017 at 3:30pm.
  • Sceptre was rescinded on Oct. 26, 2017 at 3:00pm.
  • Areas in Leader have been rescinded on Oct. 26, 2017 at 3:00pm.
  • Richmound was rescinded on Oct. 26, 2017 at 3:30pm.

Communities under a PDWA should:

  • boil all water, used for drinking purposes, for at least one minute, at a rolling boil, prior to use
  • boil water to be used for other activities where it may be ingested including brushing teeth, soaking false teeth, washing fruits/vegetables, food/drink which will not be subsequently heated, and ice cubes
  • not use the water for washing dishes unless the water has been boiled or the dishes sanitized in another fashion. Washed dishes and utensils can be soaked in a bleach water solution (2 tbsp bleach per gallon of water) for at least two minutes after being washed to kill any bacteria
  • not drink from any public drinking fountains supplied with water from the public water supply
  • ensure that younger children and infants are sponge bathed
  • use an alternative water source known to be safe if they do not wish to boil the water and
  • consult with your physician if you have cuts or rashes that are severe before using the water

Under most circumstances, there is no need to boil water used for other household purposes. Adults, adolescents, and older children may shower, bathe, or wash using tap water but should avoid swallowing the water. Laundry may be washed in tap water, either by hand or by machine.

For more information please contact the Water Security Agency at 306-778-8685.

Food Safety During a Power Outage

It’s important to think about food safety during a power outage.

A power outage can spoil food and make it unsafe to eat.  If you experienced a short term power outage, the following tips may help you in deciding what is safe to eat and what you shouldn’t keep.

Did you know that a full upright freezer can keep its contents frozen for about 2 days, while a half freezer can keep food frozen for about a day if the doors are left closed? Without electrical power, refrigerators can keep food cool for four hours provided that the fridge is kept closed as much as possible.

When deciding if you should keep food from your freezer or fridge:

  • Use a probe thermometer to check internal food temperatures. If possible add bags of ice to the freezer to help keep the temperature cool for a longer period of time and replenish the ice as needed.
  • Throw out perishable foods such as meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C (40°F) for more than two hours.
  • Foods that have thawed in the freezer may be re-frozen if they still have ice crystals.
  • Discard food items in the refrigerators that have come into contact with raw meat juices.
  • Consider using cooler or ice chests with a supply of ice for food storage.
  • Just remember, when in doubt, throw it out!

If you have any question or concerns please contact your area Public Health Inspector at (306) 778-5280.

For more information on food safety during a power outage see this Fact Sheet.

It’s InFLUenza Season – Plan to Get Immunized

Influenza Immunization Clinics to Begin October 23

Immunizations are the best way to protect yourself, your family, and those around you from influenza.  The Cypress Health Region will begin its seasonal influenza immunization campaign with the first clinic of the season on October 23 in Swift Current.

Vaccine will be available to all Saskatchewan residents at no cost.  Any person can attend any of the available public clinics to receive their immunization.  Starting October 23 and running until late November, 38 clinics will be offered in 20 communities throughout the southwest.  Several of these clinics offer evening and weekend opportunities.

Everyone is encouraged to receive their seasonal influenza vaccination.

“Influenza is more serious than the common cold and can cause significant illness, even death, especially in more vulnerable populations. A number of people get seriously ill every flu season and sadly deaths occur due to influenza. We strongly urge members of the public to get immunized and help minimize illness and complications in our communities,” commented Dr. David Torr, Medical Health Officer for the Health Region.

In addition to the public health immunization campaign, the public may also choose to receive their immunization from participating physician/nurse practitioner offices and pharmacies.  Please speak with your physician, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist to inquire about their offering of influenza immunizations.

“The vaccine is safe, effective, protective, and very rarely causes any complications. I strongly encourage everyone to get their annual influenza immunization and to encourage family, friends, seniors, and other members of the community to do the same – it is free and available to all.  You can get your shot through public health, pharmacies, and some physician offices, whichever is more convenient to you”, added Torr.

High risk groups for influenza include health care workers, adults and children with chronic or underlying health conditions, child care providers, residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities, seniors, healthy pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years but older than 6 months of age.

For more information regarding the dates and locations of the 2017 seasonal influenza immunization clinics in your community please refer to the flu clinic calendar that is being sent to household mailboxes throughout the region.  Additional influenza and immunization information will be available on the health region’s website and social media networks.  You may also speak to your family physician or call the provincial HealthLine at 8-1-1.

Choosing Wisely – Annual Exams

Physicians and healthcare providers in the Cypress Health Region have been participating in a national campaign focused on engaging in conversations with patients about unnecessary tests and treatments.  The Choosing Wisely initiative calls on clinicians and patients to make smart and effective choices to ensure high-quality care.

The Choosing Wisely campaign is built upon a growing list of tests, treatments, and procedures for which there is strong evidence of overuse, waste, or even possible harm to patients. Dr. Michele Jagga discusses annual exams and  the importance of choosing wisely.

Watch as Dr. Jagga explains why more is not always better when it comes to medical tests and treatments such as annual exams.

For more information on Choosing Wisely, please go to  https://choosingwiselycanada.org/

Cypress Health Honours Staff at Years of Service Gala

It was a special evening at the Sky Centre in Swift Current on Wednesday, October 4th as the Cypress Health Region hosted its last Employee Service Recognition Gala.  The Gala marks an opportunity for the Region to formally thank staff who have reached milestones for continuous service during the 2017 calendar year.

The program and banquet celebrated and recognized staff members who reached 5-year service plateaus ranging from a minimum of 15 years up to those who have achieved 45 years of continuous service.  A total of 60 staff members were able to join together for the evening’s celebrations including: 33 staff for the 15 year milestone, 36 staff for the 20 year milestone, 13 staff for the 25 year milestone, 19 staff for the 30 year milestone, 2 staff for the 35 year milestone, 1 staff for the 40 year milestone, and 1 staff for the 45 year milestone. These employees represented the communities of Cabri, Climax, Consul, Eastend, Gull Lake, Herbert, Hodgeville, Leader, Mankota, Maple Creek, Ponteix, Shaunavon, and Swift Current.

Members of the Cypress Health Region’s Senior Leadership Team participated in the program and awards presentations.  A message of congratulations from Jim Reiter, Minister of Health was presented to the participants. The evening’s entertainment was provided by Swift Current Improvisational Theatre and Justine Sletten.

In 2017 the Cypress Health Region is recognizing a total of 243 staff members who have reached service plateaus of 5-40 years totaling 3,235 years of health care experience.

Outbreak Rescinded – Wolf Willow Health Centre – Eastend

Update: September 29 at 11:50am

Please be advised that the outbreak at the Wolf Willow Health Centre in Eastend has been rescinded and visitation at the facility may now resume.

We would like to thank the general public for adhering to the visitation restrictions during the outbreak.  Thanks is also extended to staff and public health/inspection control teams for their diligence in working to rescind the outbreak as quickly as possible.

While visitation has now resumed, enteric and other illnesses continue to circulate in our communities.  Frequent and proper handwashing are very important to eliminate the spreading of illnesses.  In particular we ask anyone visiting a health facility to please wash your hands thoroughly prior to leaving your home and wash your hands again upon entering the facility.  If you are feeling ill, please stay home until you are feeling well.

Update: September 27 at 9:30am

The outbreak continues.  There are currently three residents with signs and symptoms of the illness.  The specific illness type remains unknown.  Visitation restrictions continue to be in place. See original post below for complete details.

Original post: September 25 at 4:30pm

Under the guidance of Medical Health Officer Dr. David Torr, an outbreak has been declared at the Wolf Willow Health Centre in Eastend due to the presence of enteric illness signs and symptoms amongst the facilities residents.

Gastroenteritis (enteric illness) means inflammation of the stomach and both small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses that result in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the “stomach flu”, although the influenza viruses do not cause gastroenteritis.

Many different viruses can cause gastroenteritis, including rotaviruses, noroviruses, adenoviruses and enteroviruses.

Read more about Viral Gastroenteritis.

Due to this declaration, please consider the following:

  • Until further notice, visitation to the facility will be restricted.  The only exceptions to these restrictions will be in the event of an ‘end of life’ situation, where the nurse in charge at the facility can be contacted to discuss the options that are available for family members to visit their loved one.
  • This outbreak has been declared due to the presence of an unconfirmed enteric illness.  Samples will be collected and sent to the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory in Regina for analysis and confirmation of the illness type.
  • Presently, there are four long term care residents within the facility who have been identified as meeting the signs and symptoms of this illness.
  • Enhanced cleaning and infection control protocols have been implemented within the facility in an attempt to remove the illness.

Public Health and Infection Control Team members are actively involved and are providing guidance into the ongoing steps being taken to eradicate the illness.  The health region is strongly emphasizing that everyone do what they can to prevent the spread of illness/sickness to others.  Frequent and proper handwashing, staying home when ill, and enhanced cleaning of hard surfaces within your homes/businesses should always be the normal practice.

Read more about outbreaks and why they are declared.

More than Just Inspections

Proclamation of Environmental Public Health Week in Swift Current

On the surface, you may not see the link between your favourite restaurant, the local swimming pool, or the new house being built on your street. If you look a little deeper however, you’ll see that these, in one way or another, all fall under the duties of Environmental Public Health (EPH) in the Cypress Health Region. Every day our region’s environmental public health professionals, more commonly referred to as public health inspectors, impact the food we eat, the water we drink, and the places where we gather, live, and learn.

On Monday September 25th, 2017 the City of Swift Current proclaimed Environmental Public Health Week. This week recognizes the important work completed by Environmental Public Health Professionals across Canada in order to help keep our communities safe.

“Our team of public health inspectors play a critical role in helping to protect the public in southwest Saskatchewan from environmental health hazards that affect our daily lives and wellbeing. This can include food safety, air quality, water safety, pest control, tobacco control, recreational facilities, and many others” says Brad Giesbrecht, Senior Public Health Inspector. “A key part of our jobs is to work proactively to protect the health of individuals while troubleshooting any potential issues before they become health concerns.”

While restaurant inspections are often the first thing that public health inspectors are associated with, a diverse range of activities fall under their daily duties including education, investigations, and enforcements. In 2016, 1,414 public health inspections were done in the Cypress Health Region. These inspections included restaurants, pools, sewage systems, childcare facilities, and others. In addition to the inspections, 599 participants attended educational opportunities hosted by public health inspection such safe food handling courses and programs for swimming pool operators.

In recognition of the important role Environmental Public Health Professionals have in protecting the health of the public and our communities, we are celebrating Environmental Public Health Week within the Cypress Health Region. For more information on the work of public health please visit https://cypresshealth.ca/programs-services/public-health/.