September 17, 2020 Town Hall Q&As
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: COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org
- For Parents: What do we do if our child is: 1) Sent home from school. 2) COVID +, or 3) just sick - Do we call in sick or is there a special leave? (edited)
If your child is COVID-19 positive, then you will need to stay home with them, especially if you are being contacted by Public Health. You will need to self-isolate with your children because, unlike adults, children are unable to care for themselves. If you have symptoms, you of course need to stay home and call in sick for that. Other than the scenario in which your child is COVID-19 positive, another leave will need to be used. If you are told by public health to self-isolate, the leave is generally paid, unless you are symptomatic. If you are symptomatic, then it will be sick leave. If your child is sent home but you are not asked by public health to self-isolate or if you are self-isolating yourself and are not symptomatic, there are different leaves within the unionized collective agreement. There is also special leave. For non contract staff there are things like vacation days and personal days.
A flow chart will be developed.
- Please supply staff with hand sanitizer and masks at ALL staff entrances.
While we would love to be able to provide masks at all the entrances, the logistics prove difficult. We all need to be good stewards of our PPE. But we cannot simply leave a box of masks unattended because we won’t be able to keep track of them and we will burn through them too quickly. There is also the issue of reaching into a box of masks with unsanitized hands - this will contaminate all the masks.
In terms of hand sanitizer, there are stations at every entrance. The first thing you should do when you enter one of our sites is clean your hands.
- Is there anything that can be done to increase timeliness of staff access to testing? Waits at test centres can be over two hours.
This is a big issue that is being worked on regionally. There is also an increasing number of testing centers that are opening across the region. Our emergency rooms at SPH and MSJ are currently trialing performing tests on PHC staff (with the presentation of their PHC Photo ID), however these are not designated testing sites because we do not want to overwhelm and overflow our emergency rooms.
Remember: If you are a health care worker, please inform the testing site so that they can code it as such. Health care workers who provide direct care to patients are labeled as healthcare worker 1, and that generally will prioritize the testing as well, so that once it reached the laboratory, the turnaround time will be shorter than maybe other tests that are available for individuals going to get tested.
You can also visit the ED Wait Time dashboard to see the COVID-19 testing site estimated wait times.
- Can those who have been working from home continue to work from home until the end of the pandemic?
For most of our staff, working from home is not an opportunity, so thank you to everyone who’s coming in on site for their work and doing it safely in a way that protects themselves, their families, and especially those that we serve.
About a week ago, Human Resources and People Services provided an update on this very question, so it is already in your email inbox, but in summary:
Your safety and everyone’s safety is paramount. So in the case for those that can work at home, there s no change currently to our approach. So if you’re able to work safely, please work this out with your manager.
We will regularly keep you updated on this issue.
Working from home has created some challenges and some opportunities. We need to think about how we relate to our team, and when it is appropriate with your manager support to begin rotating in and out as appropriate so that your teams can begin to reconstitute.
We’re not going to be definitive now about what the future looks like, we’re open to being flexible and trusting our staff. But those three items are central in terms of helping those who can work from home to continue to do so.
- What are the lessons learned from a leadership level? What could leadership improve upon in future outbreaks?
The outbreak was a remarkable thing - difficult for sure, but the resiliency and there were some real wins, and people really stepped up and did the best for the residents that we could. THe major thing is that we needed to be a bit more organized, and maybe a lot more organized. We have to have an outbreak specialist, both for long term care and for acute care. So we can’t reinvent the wheel every time we have an outbreak, we need people that have some experience and now we do, to be able to go out there and partner with the people that are on site and say “Ok, how are we going to reorganzie things to address all the things we need to do, and work effectively, particularly with public health, and make sure that we increase safety as much as we can.”
We have already done some of those things. The other thing we want to do is go back in and debrief, but really more of an inquiry to see what we could have done better but also what worked well. And that’s because everyone’s perspective on the outbreak was probably a little bit different depending on where you worked and how often. We want to get everyone’s opinion about what did work well so that we can emphasize that next time. We are doing interviews and discussions with everybody at Holy Family, so you should hear about some opportunities to share your experiences.
From Fiona: “During the difficult times that we’re all facing in COVID, the Holy Family staff who throughout incredibly difficult moments kept coming to work, kept looking after their residents and giving some outstanding care - all credit to that team, who have shown the most amazing resilience, compassion, and kindness throughout it.”
- Are there plans for staff to be redeployed again should cases/hospitalizations rise?
- There is a really fundamental question to how we use our human resources - so we had a plan in the first phase to redeploy if needed, and those plans covered ops and other areas. The reality is that we made the best plans and thankfully didn’t need to operationalize them to the degree that we needed to. But just from a high level, of course we do want to be thinking about redeployment should we need it. We need to ensure that the areas that have outbreaks have the strongest team possible. So we do have plans for redeployment and we want to rely on our culture. Everyone help out and all hands on deck, and we will redeploy as needed to ensure that we are supporting each other and also ensuring that we give the safest and best care we possibly can during the pandemic to our patients.
- What will PHC do to reinstate spiritual care as essential during an outbreak? US chaplains are not sent home https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53284610
There is no conversation or no questioning about the value of every discipline, allied or otherwise, that are at the front lines that are working. But there is a difference of opinion internationally over what to do with services like spiritual care in a time of a COVID positive outbreak. For us here at Providence, we are of course about reducing transmission. AS part of the regional decision about allied health care disciplines, when an outbreak is called we need to balance the care and the health of those that are vulnerable with the number of people coming in. SO the decision was made to reduce allied health care including spiritual care as general people in those units. What hasn’t changed is that in an emergency, spiritual care will be provided at the bedside. And when there isn’t an emergency that those staff are still working remotely to support our staff.
At the end of the day the life of those people in care is fundamental. From a theological perspective, let’s remember as well that we’re not the only people that are providing care and then we can entrust care to the other people that are at the frontlines. And as the Sisters would say, for God to.
- Is there a plan to increase cleaning on the wards?
We have enhanced cleaning, for many months now, and that is still continuing. Environment Services has had to bring in many more staff to accommodate that every four hour cleaning of the high touch surfaces. WE are looking at innovative ways to improve the cleaning processes, including an ultraviolet machine brought in - one at Holy Family Hospital, and the other in our OR.
Also, a big shout out to all our IPAC practitioners and cleaning staff who gave so much support to Holy Family but also as a whole to the organization.
- When will we receive our pandemic pay?
This simple question does not have a simple answer. This requires coordination between the federal government, provincial government, health organizations with their CFOs and with HR. We are hoping to target October 9. We are still hoping to target October 9 but it might be a moving target. As soon as we know the answer, it will be communicated to you so that you know when that is happening.
Thank you for your patience on this.
- Let's advocate for two designated family visitors for our elders in LTC. And for more visits. Residents have a right to a bubble of their choice like we do.
It’s very complicated. Public Health is very concerned about our long term care facilities so a lot of their orders have been around long term care, and we have to abide by that because that’s very much a legal framework we must work within. We also have to be consistent within our region and with the long term care regional programs because it becomes problematic if something is being done at just one facility or just at the Providence facilities. We will continue to try and balance safety and the ability to have visitors as much as we can and advocate for our residents. We know it is difficult for both the residents and their family. This is a provincial decision, but we can advocate for our residents.
- Is there a plan to have an emergency staffing pool with staff that are willing to work in an outbreak site (especially LTC) to avoid scrambling last minute?
What we saw at Holy Family was an amazing group of volunteers who ran towards Holy Fmaily and said “Yes, that’s where I feel called to be and where I will work.”
We welcome the idea of planning for an emergency staffing pool. We will take that back to the team that is working on trying to anticipate those needs. Big thank you to those who had responded to the first outbreak.
We hope to continue to spread the message that going to support your site or an outbreak site is incredibly meaningful and a powerful thing you can do.
- Could we have weekly practice drills in donning and doffing PPE as outbreak preparedness to lower the chances for staff to contract and spread the virus?
Such a great suggestion and between professional practice and infection control, we are working so hard to be out frontward facing giving everybody the opportunity to practice. To actually watch a video of how you do something is not the same as actually trying it out for yourself. We do really want to encourage this. You can sign up for sessions by clicking here.
We want every person in this organization to be skilled to the extent that they can support their colleagues at every moment of the work day to make sure that they’re using PPE correctly.
So find the people in your area who can support you and we will work hard to bring you more resources.
- What does a leader do while they are waiting for direction from Public Health if a staff person tests +. What do they advise their staff?
When a staff person tests positive, both public health and occupational health & safety are notified. The provincial Workplace Health Call Centre will also work on the contact tracing but what we do immediately is let the leader know that there has been a positive outcome on their unit and they need to advise their staff to follow the PPE protocols and watch for symptoms, and then go for testing if somebody has symptoms. If staff are considered close contact, public health will advise them to self-isolate. While we wait though, please make sure you watch for symptoms and follow the PPE and IPAC protocols, and if you get any symptoms, no matter how mild, go get tested.
- How is PHC going to deal with increase of cases?
- PHC fits into the regional and provincial plan which is looking at low, medium, high, and very high increases in surge cases. We have very detailed plans, particularly for medicine because that’s where most of the patients are going to be, but increasing the bed base for medicine and for ICU. There’s a regional group that is going to be looking at whether going to have some specific changes in our staffing and moving people around to make sure we have enough working within the region. We are also discussing having an external place to move patients, particularly ones that don’t have COVID, so that we can free up beds for those that do (example, the lease on the Convention Centre in Vancouver). We are really trying to maintain those services as much as we can, so we won’t be shutting things down or moving people unless we have to, because it’s just as important for people to get their cardiac caths, for people to get their colonoscopies, for people to get their cataract surgeries. WE really have to balance all those things as COVID cases increase.
If you need to reach PHC’s Infection Prevention and Control Team (IPAC), please call local 69357. Do not contact individual IPAC team members.