Visitor restrictions at hospital over

Visitors are once again free to come and go from Alliston’s Stevenson Memorial Hospital as officials announced the risks associated with a viral outbreak are over. Visitor restrictions were put in place at the hospital last Saturday after a number of patients and staff on the Medical Surgical Unit exhibited symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Special measures were put in place to limit further spread of the suspected gastroenteritis outbreak to patients and visitors were not allowed on the Medical Surgical Unit for a period of approximately 24 hours. After controlling the outbreak and with no new admissions to the unit, family members were allowed to visit their loved ones on Sunday. Contact precautions were still in place and visitors and staff wore gloves, masks and gowns. Today, (Fri., April 17) the outbreak status has been lifted and visiting hours have returned to normal. The infection is still prevalent in the community and hospital officials remind the public that if they are ill they should not be visiting people in health-care facilities. People may unknowingly bring the infection into hospital when visiting sick relatives or friends. "Our staff who always do a stellar job, worked quickly and constantly to contain this outbreak," said Gary Ryan, President and CEO of Stevenson Memorial Hospital. "Effective hand washing also helped to keep the illness from spreading," he added. The hospital and Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit also remind the community that proper hand hygiene is one of the best ways to fight the spread of disease. People should always wash their hands with soap and warm water or alcohol based hand rub for at least 15 seconds. They should ensure their hands are clean before preparing or eating food, after using the washroom, and before or after any person-to-person contact. Alcohol hand sanitizer is available throughout the hospital and visitors are reminded to clean their hands before visiting.


Cathy Jones headlines comedy festival

Veteran comic Cathy Jones will headline Orillia’s third-annual comedy festival (April 15 to 18) with a Saturday-evening show at the city’s venerable opera house. A founding member of the mock news program, “This Hour Has 22 Minutes,” Jones spoke with Orillia Today in advance of her appearance, ruminating on character-driven comedy and the joy of finding humour in hardship. Jones, who turned 54 on Monday, began the phone interview from inside a Halifax, Nova Scotia car wash, where her Mini was enjoying a foam bath. Orillia Today: TV viewers know you for your role in This Hour Has 22 Minutes, where you work as part of an ensemble cast. What can you tell us about your upcoming performance at the opera house? Jones: “A lot of times, when I do a solo performance, I just talk and tell jokes, but I think I’m going to do a couple of character pieces, because the show is longer than usual. (At this point, the conversation turns to the car wash. “The dryer is so short – there’s only 20 seconds left,” Jones tells a reporter. “I’m going to back up and go through again.” She does just that, before returning to the subject of her solo performance.) “People do like to see a sprinkling of video, and I do have some fun things that I want to share. I’m hoping to bring a young actor that I have a lot of respect for, (who) plays scenes with me really well.” Orillia Today: Is there a sense of freedom with a solo act that you don’t have as part of a larger cast? Is there an intimidation factor there, arriving on the stage alone? Jones: “To me, if the show goes well, if I’m connecting with my audience, I am very happy to be there. Especially if I feel comfortable enough to explore things as I go, topics that I’m fascinated by. I have a history in my family of their being good at being MCs. My father had a very dry sense of humour, and a lot of times people didn’t know he was joking. If you didn’t have a good sense of humour, you might miss it. It is in my family, the show business thing.”’ Orillia Today: You’ve been described as a comic chameleon, able to slip into any number of characters with the help of a few props. Babe Bennett comes to mind. Can you give us some insight into the creative process required to develop these characters? Jones: “The truth is, I get inspired by stuff, but it’s been awhile. I’m kind of lazy. When I hear somebody speaking, I want to capture their accent. When I hear somebody talking, the voice comes back to me. Sometimes when I’m meditating I’ll be talking out loud and a character will come to me.” Orillia Today: Is it true that your female characters were modeled after your mother? Jones: “I think there was that broken hearted tenderness, even though I have my father’s aggression where I suddenly snap. I think my mom, she was incredibly generous – Newfoundlanders are incredibly generous – she was funny. She played the piano. She had a really deep voice.” Orillia Today: Much has been written about the East Coast having its own distinct brand of humour. Is that true, and if so, what sets it apart from other comedy? Jones: “It is harder to be funny when you are on top, because it is not as easy to fool around. When you are on the East Coast, you are almost the class clown of the country. We are like people who really know how to survive on a (expletive deleted) rock. Being the underdog and (yet) not being crushed is a great place for humour to come from.” Orillia Today: How do you choose your targets – I mean subjects – when you’re preparing for an episode of This Hour Has 22 Minutes? Jones: “What’s politically in the news, what are the hot topics. We have meetings Monday morning and there is a huge idea list generated and then people write and write. We basically have two days to write the show.” Orillia Today: Any favourite subjects come to mind? Jones: “I like stuff that’s smart. I like funny, funny stuff. I’m not a news junkie type of person. I’m more about people’s behaviour, how we treat each other, the changes in culture, like what we have done to life on Earth. What it is like to be my age, to be who I am. I am not a male standup comedian, I am character-driven.” Orillia Today: Carol Burnett was renowned for her characters. Jones: “She was very physical. It wasn’t about the snappy patter. It was the physical appearance. She was killer. Orillia Today: Within film and television, it’s often said comedy is perhaps the most difficult form to write well. What sets apart good humour writing from the mediocre stuff that seems in such ample supply these days? Jones: “Real comedy comes out of real situations. If you do something very unlikely, you get further away from good comedy. Something being true and genuine is way funnier than somebody trying to be funny. My favourite comedy comes out of real life situations. Real emotions can be very, very funny.” – Cathy Jones performs at the Orillia Opera House April 18 at 8 p.m., with tickets priced at $40, or $30 for seniors and students. For more information, call 326-8011.


Snowarama raises $9,000-plus

The Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids event in Clearview Township on Jan. 31 raised more than $9,000. Event spokesperson Charlene Myke made the announcement last week, saying that in total the event brought in $9,570. The annual event involves snowmobilers in the area collecting pledges and then going for a ride on their machines. The fundraiser, which includes events province-wide, was founded in 1975 by Whipper Billy Watson, a famous Canadian wrestler from the 1940s to the 1970s. The money that’s raised allows Easter Seals to help physically disabled children by providing them with funds to purchase mobility devices such as wheelchairs. Easter Seals, founded in 1922 by a handful of Rotary clubs, also runs summer camps and other recreational programs for youth with disabilities. The Blue Mountain Snowdrifters, the local chapter of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and the Collingwood Progress Club, presented the local event. Sledders traveled on trails maintained by the club. The event was based in a parking lot off Nottawasaga Sideroad 33/34. Participants included Clearview Township mayor Ken Ferguson, a long-time snowmobiler. The mayor said he’s taken part in the fundraiser for roughly 20 years.