Providence Alerts (Texts)


Why did Providence create Providence Alert? Why is it necessary?
Information concerning health care providers and COVID-19 is changing frequently, often several times a day. Given that many of us (Providence staff and physicians) work away from desktop computers, email is an ineffective way to alert everyone to new information. We have chosen to take the unprecedented step of sending text messages to Providence physicians and staff to ensure we are able to share critical information quickly and easily. 
Who is it for?
We have one list for Providence staff and another list for Providence physicians. Some alerts will go out to both lists.
How are you protecting my privacy, phone number and data?

We chose an Ontario-based vendor so that your phone numbers are stored in Canada. The technology allows for all information to be encrypted and it will not be shared with anyone else. Vancouver Coastal Health has chosen the same vendor and it has been clear by VCH privacy. Providence Privacy leaders have also approved this vendor and this approach.

Providence Subject Matter Expert: 
Janet Scott
Leader, Information Access & Privacy
Providence Health Care

What are the sign-in key words? Are they case sensitive?
Staff use STAFF. Physicians use DOC. The words are not case sensitive.
What kinds of messages am I going to receive?
We will only use this messaging service for information that is critically important or of time-sensitive value to staff members and/or physicians. 
What if I don’t want to get these messages?

To opt out, text STOP to the number you received the message from. Due to heavy use of networks, it might take 5-10 minutes for you to receive a confirmation.  

What if I want Providence Alert but I’m not getting the messages?

Staff and physicians who are not receiving Providence Alert  but want to, should go to home page and choose the appropriate sign up button (staff or physicians). (look for red box in corner)

What if the alerts are going to one of my numbers but I want it to go to another number?

Using the currently subscribed number, text STOP to the number from which you received the text. Then go to and click the sign up button for Providence Alert (red box in top left corner of home page). Choose the Staff or Physician list. Enter your name and the phone number that you prefer to get the text messages sent. 

Can anyone other than Providence staff and physicians get these messages?
Yes, it is possible that a non-Providence employee could opt-in. Most of the information we provide is critical and timely, but not confidential. Any confidential information sent to physicians will simply be a link to a restricted Facebook group. So even if someone unauthorized is subscribed, they can’t access the confidential information itself. 
Are any other health authorities sending text messages? 
To our knowledge, VCH is also sending text messages to staff and physicians. We are collaborating with them to coordinate messages.
I work at VCH and Providence. Will I get duplicate messages?
It is possible that you might get duplicate messages but we are doing our best to work with VCH communicators to reduce the incidence of duplication. Please stay opted in to both if possible. 
Who are the vendors you’re using and how can I find out more about them? 
We are working with two vendors. Affinity Bridge, a Vancouver-based technology company is configuring our system. The platform we’re using is based out of Ontario and called Local Text Marketers.
These messages are making me even more anxious about COVID-19. Is there any support for staff?

To support your mental health and wellness, a support line is available for staff and volunteers to speak with a colleague who is trained to provide Psychological First Aid (this is not a crisis line). Call 604.806.9925 or local 69925 – leave your name, number and a time for one of the trained volunteers to call you back. This line is also available to physicians.

Will you continue to use Providence Alert after the COVID-19 threat has passed? 
If Providence Alert is successful in helping us communicate urgently and in a timely fashion, then yes, we will consider keeping it in place for use in future emergency situations.
What are the rules around what kind of messages you’re sending out and who can send them?

We have strict policies and procedures for the sending of these messages. These messages must meet the following criteria:

  1. Urgent (needs to be distributed within hours for immediate effect)
  2. Represents significant change in status of the situation
  3. Respects the time of staff and physicians (eg. as short as possible)  
Will I get charged for these messages? 
No. Most Canadian carriers do not charge for domestic (Canadian) texts. Also neither Providence nor our suppliers will charge you for the text message. 
This page last updated Oct 2, 2020 2:57pm PDT