COVID-19 UPDATE: Provincial Measures; Eastern and Western Health

gmcneil Occupational Health & Safety

PROVINCIAL UPDATE

  • There are 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Health region, which brings the provincial total to 82.
  • Ages range from 8 to 80, and all are recovering at home. There have been no hospitalizations to date.
  • Testing is now being done in the province’s microbiology lab, rather than Winnipeg.
  • The provincial legislature has resumed sitting to debate legislation related to COVID-19.
  • Proposed amendments to the Labour Standards Act include a leave of absence without pay and job protection for employees affected by COVID-19.
  • Other proposed amendments include protection from eviction for tenants who cannot pay rent because of COVID-19, and measures to insure the delivery of government services such as health care.
  • New ferry restrictions are in place limiting passenger numbers, requiring passengers to stay in vehicles and allowing only essential travel.
  • Businesses with government contracts are required to continue to employ employees who were hired prior to the health emergency declaration, as government continues to pay the companies.
  • Home support workers are considered essential workers and should check with the government website under resources for information on how to work in this environment.

EASTERN HEALTH

Operations Updates: Hospital and Acute Care Centres

  • We have implemented measures to facilitate social distancing and help reduce the spread of infection, including the reduction of seating in our cafeterias and additional cleaning of touchable surfaces, such parking pay stations.
  • We worked diligently to discharge patients who were ready to move out of our facilities and back into the community. This has increased the number of available beds throughout facilities.
  • We have prepared care units dedicated to COVID-19 patients at Health Sciences Centre and St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital.
  • The gates of the patient parking lot at the Health Sciences Centre will remain open for those who require urgent care. Staff and physicians should not park their vehicles on lots designated for patient use.
  • The Better 4U Café at the Health Sciences Centre will temporarily close effective March 26, 2020, due to reduced demand.

Occupational Health and Workplace Safety Updates

Quarantine

  • Any individual who is swabbed for COVID-19 with a negative result still needs to complete the required quarantine time of 14 days from the time of the initial suspected exposure to COVID-19.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • A new online requisition form for the release of controlled supplies in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic is now available at: nlchi.nl.ca/order/ppe/.
  • PPE is available to staff and physicians. Please speak to your manager about how to access PPE when it is required in your area.

Virtual Care Updates

  • We are working to set up virtual care as a way to deliver health care in certain program areas.
  • We have implemented telehealth solutions at Carbonear General Hospital, Dr. A.A. Wilkinson Memorial Health, Dr. W. H. Newhook Community Health Centre and Placentia Health Care Centre.
  • We have also implemented iPad technology in emergency departments at city sites and plan to implement in rural emergency departments as well. More details will be provided as other sites are rolled out.

Services Updates

  • The weekend family medicine walk-in clinics at Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville will continue via phone from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29. Patients can call 709-466-5381 to speak with a physician.
  • DoorWays – Mental health and addictions staff will continue to offer telephone and/or virtual counselling support through DoorWays.

Donations of medical supplies 

  • We have heard reports of social posts circulating indicating that Eastern Health is accepting donations of medical supplies. Please be advised that this is not correct, we are not looking for donations from the public on these items.

WESTERN HEALTH

  • There will be an all staff tele/videoconference Friday, March 27 at 1:00 for any staff member to connect with senior management, and our Medical Officer of Health. Call in and GoTo information has been shared in an email to all staff.

Operations Update

  • All paper signage that is not laminated should be removed from all areas within the organization where possible.
  • If you have questions around infection prevention and control (IPAC), please refer to the outbreak policy for outbreak management in Acute and Long Term Care (15-04-50). If your question is not addressed, please speak with your manager or an IPAC staff member.
  • We are planning for the expansion of access for testing, assessment and treatment within our rural areas.
  • Plans are underway to enable virtual visitation across Long Term Care and Acute Care in all sites within the region.

Human Resources Update

  • The Government is permitting the operation of regulated child care services for children (one to 13 years) in order to enable essential workers to provide critical services if they have no other options available (see more here).
  • It is important that staff practice social distancing in lounges, the cafeteria, and when working in all areas within the organization. Self-isolation and social distancing will limit transmission. The majority of people with COVID-19 have mild disease but are capable of transmitting it even if their symptoms are very mild.
  • This is a difficult time for many.  You are encouraged to seek assistance, if needed, by contacting the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-866-784-5306.
  • You can emailCOVID-19 related questions, concerns or ideas to us at COVID19@westernhealth.nl.ca