Acute Care Exposure Patient or Visitor Q&A


What do we do if a patient tests positive for COVID-19?

Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) is notified by VCH Public Health when a patient tests positive for COVID-19. IPAC provides patient locations during the infectious period to VCH Public Health and Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S).

OH&S forwards the relevant manager(s) the VCH Public Health notification of exposure and requests that they confirm that staff wore appropriate PPE at all times. If that is the case, this would be a non-event, meaning no exposure. If there was a possible breach in PPE, then VCH Public Health will provide guidance on next steps for those staff potentially exposed to COVID-19.

As a staff member, if a patient on your unit tests positive for COVID-19, you can continue to work unless you have been in direct contact with the patient who is COVID-19 positive without PPE. If you are unsure of what to do and have questions, you can ask your unit lead, division or department leader. 

What are the isolation protocols for a COVID-19 positive patient?

A COVID-19 positive patient should be isolated in a single room, or in a room with other patients with COVID-19.

What type of precautions should I use when treating a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
Isolate the patient in a single room, if possible, and implement droplet and contact precautions. For additional infection control guidelines, visit the IPAC guidelines page on the COVID-19 website. 
Are staff providing care to a suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19 restricted from providing care to other patients?

To minimize transmission risk, we have dedicated staff working on a COVID-19 unit, who are not assigned to work in other areas of the facility, if at all possible.

When this is not possible, unit leadership will discuss this with the individual staff members.  

What do we do if one of our confirmed COVID-19 positive patients is leaving their room for essential medical appointments or treatment elsewhere in the hospital/community?

Ensure that the appointment or treatment is essential at this time and cannot be managed on the unit. If the patient does need to leave the unit, contact the receiving department or facility to advise them a patient with COVID-19 will be coming to their area and that droplet and contact precautions are in place.

Before the patient leaves their room, educate or assist them to:

  • Perform hand hygiene
  • Put on a procedure/surgical mask
  • Put on a clean gown/housecoat or cover with a clean blanket

Staff who are involved in transporting the patient should wear a surgical/procedural mask, eye protection, gown and gloves as per droplet and contact precautions.

For more information, visit the Patient Transfer page of the COVID-19 site.

Where can I find information about an exposure in an acute care setting? 
To learn more about what happens when there is a potential exposure in an acute care setting, check out the Acute Care Exposure toolkit
What defines a close contact?
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, a high-risk close contact is a person who meets one or more of the following criteria:
  • Provided direct care for someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including health-care workers, family members or other caregivers, or who had other similar close physical contact (e.g., intimate partner) without consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment.
  • Lived with or otherwise had close face-to-face contact (within 2 metres) with a probable or confirmed case for more than 15 minutes (may be cumulative, i.e., multiple interactions) up to 48 hours prior to symptom onset.
  • Had direct contact with infectious body fluids of a probable or confirmed case (e.g., was coughed or sneezed on) while not wearing recommended PPE.
  • Has been identified by the local MHO as a possible contact.
If I am a confirmed close contact but have tested negative and have no symptoms, do I need to isolate?
Yes. You need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day you were exposed if you are deemed a close contact by Public Health. They will give you specific direction.
This page last updated Dec 8, 2020 3:52pm PST