April 30 Town Hall Q+A
The following Town Hall questions were answered with information that was current at the time. Information around COVID-19 and our response continues to evolve. If you are unsure if the information below is still current, or if you can’t find the information elsewhere on the website, please talk to your leader or email: COVIDemail@example.com
CARING FOR PATIENTS
- Is the convention centre still part of the contingency plans for housing patients? In what scenario would that option ever be used? Who would staff it?
- The lease on the convention centre is continuing, and as you may know a vaccine clinic is currently there. The use of the convention centre as a ‘field hospital’ was always contingent on having appropriate, adequate staffing and a clear plan for the patient population that would benefit from being there. That has not changed- however if herd immunity is reached in the next few months it seems unlikely we would need this as an emergency measure.
- Will the pre-op testing continue for elective surgery ENT patients?
- Testing continues to be aligned with provincial policy: based on symptoms and clinical scenario, and at the discretion of their physician. Knowing ENT patients often have symptoms consistent with COVID, the bar for testing remains low.
- What is being done to meet increased staffing needs (nursing, physician, allied) in anticipation for increased patient numbers and heavier care needs?
We know everyone is working so hard, and this third wave is so tough. Around staffing, the CNLs, managers, directors are doing their best to staff up areas, not just at baseline, but above, if need be. In addition to that, we are opening up more space to treat potential COVID patient, like the critical care area. We have also gone down in surgeries across the Lower Mainland to free up resources, including nurses.
A huge thank you to all the nurses working together and the manager knitting our staffing together. If you are feeling that you are stretched beyond what you’re comfortable with, please reach out to your CNL as soon as possible and let them know and we will do everything we can to support you.
- Is there any talk about needing to deploy any corporate services folks into care settings?
- When will we get the second vaccine?
The current guidance remains at 16 weeks for the second dose, but thing may change in the future. Part of the original plan to increase the timeframe to 16 weeks was to get as may people as possible their first dose.
Update, May 3, 2021: The province is expecting more than one million doses of vaccine to arrive throughout the month of May, which means first doses may be offered to all adults in B.C. sooner than originally anticipated. Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, said yesterday that if everyone is able to get their first dose sooner, it may mean the interval between the first and second dose could be reduced. In order to help get vaccine to adults across the province, Dr. Henry encouraged everyone to register, even if you have already received your first dose through a workplace or pharmacy. Registration in the provincial booking system will help ensure the right amount of vaccine is sent to each clinic, and will help clinic locations scale up appropriately to meet increased demand. Register here.
- Can we hand in our hand-written yellow piece of paper to get a card for our second dose?
- Yes, we think that if you bring your piece of paper, that you will be able to trade it in for a card.
- Is there any evidence for mix and match of vaccines yet?
- We will be getting more information on this as there are currently clinical trials underway in the UK, and this should be available in the following months.
- Will there be a shortage of the vaccines for second doses?
- We don’t know the answer to this yet, however both Pfizer and Moderna supplies are looking promising in the coming weeks and months.
- For second dose: will we get contacted by PHC directly for the next shot OR do we have to sign up like in the community?
- We will soon be transitioning to the provincial vaccine appointment booking platform, and we encourage everyone to register here: Register here
- However until further notice, the current booking process for health care workers can be found in weekly memos and on our PHC COVID site.
- Will PHC be contacting people for the second shot?
- You also have the ability to look up your vaccination record online.
- Can you clarify one more time whether, even when fully vaccinated, one can still be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus and pass it on to others?
- Yes, clinical trials suggest it is possible to be an asymptomatic carrier, but that you are much less likely to be one. There are still studies underway around this. For more information, watch the Town Hall video from 43:25 – 45:50.
- Can PHC staff get vaccinated at Fraser Health clinics? Or should we go to travel clinic or convention centre only?
- Staff can get vaccinated at any clinic, is our current understanding.
- Why are we still allowing visitors to the hospital and COVID units?
- We continue to operate in a world where we balance what is safe for our patients from both a physical and psychological perspective. While there have been some concerns about some visitors, for the most part, it has been managed really well and we don’t see this as a high risk for source of transmission. For so many people at our sites, it is important for them to have that essential visitor support, and we are constantly monitoring the situation.
- Do you feel that the pandemic has at least resulted in major improvements in staff infection control awareness/practices?
- In the last year and a half, we have seen just how valuable the support that our infection control practitioners and our medical colleagues bring to front line care, and we have had an opportunity to increase the team by a significant number of people.
Now we also have an opportunity to think strategically moving forward. This could change the way we see health care in the future, and we now have a team that is well-positioned to do amazing things to support you all.
We are also very proud of all of our teams across PHC for these efforts in adapting and practicing the best infection control practices.
- Is there enough supply of N95 respirators to support use for all direct care with COVID positive patients?
- We have a health supply and we are certainly in a strong place to support current protocols. We want people to use their clinical judgement when doing their point of care assessments and we have enough supplies to handle this.
- If PPE is personal protective equipment, why can’t employees wear Stoggles which are more comfortable & provide equal coverage as hospital goggles.
- Stoggles are not approved PPE. Goggles prevent droplets from entering the eye, while stoggles do not (no integrated upper eye protection, nor curved to fit wearer’s head, do not extend to fit wearer’s head).
We do have a number of other options that will keep staff safer and available through our provincial supply chain that are comfortable, that are anti-fog and that have been tested and that have met the protection requirements.
WORKING FROM HOME
- With the new variant and higher numbers of COVID cases, will PHC move towards a stricter communication or directive to have non-clinical workers work from home?
- To address rising COVID-19 case counts, protect people and communities and help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission, the provincial health officer is strongly encouraging all workers to work from home, where possible, effective March 30 2021.
- While this direction does not change PHC’s guidance for staff who can successfully work from home (WFH), to continue to do so, this new order serves as a good reminder for all of us to stay the course. If your work requires you to be onsite, please continue to practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask in common areas (lobbies, elevators, washrooms, stairwells) and always stay home when you are sick. Please refer to the Work From Home Toolkit for more information.