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oneVCH COVID-19 Bulletin
March 16, 2020
REGIONAL EOC
The purpose of this bulletin will be to specifically address some of the key questions many of you have, such as:
  • Situation updates
  • Employee and medical staff safety
  • Policy changes
  • Availability of supplies and management of resources
The bulletins are also available on the COVID-19 section of our intranet.
SITUATION UPDATE
Update on new and existing COVID-19 cases

The Ministry of Health announced today that three people who had tested positive for COVID-19 have passed away, all of whom were residents of the Lynn Valley Care Centre (LVCC). This brings the total number of Canadians who have passed away to four, and all deaths have been connected to the LVCC. 

The Ministry also confirmed 30 new cases in B.C. for a total of 103 cases in the province. The individuals are in the Vancouver Coastal, Fraser, Island and Interior health regions, and were confirmed positive based on B.C. Centre for Disease Control testing. Of these cases, six are in acute care, five have fully recovered, and the rest are self-isolating at home. 

The provincial government officially implemented some additional steps to assist with the rapidly changing situation in B.C.

British Columbia’s health authorities are directed to immediately move all hospitals in the province to  Outbreak Response Phase 2. This means hospitals will undertake only urgent and emergency  procedures and will postpone all non-urgent scheduled surgeries. Hospitals will review operating-room capacity daily to prioritize urgent and emergency cases.   

Lions Gate Hospital in the Vancouver Coastal Health region is directed to move to Outbreak  Response Phase 3. This means the hospital will accept only emergency patients. Lions Gate  Hospital  is also preparing to open a dedicated COVID-19 unit to provide care to those with the virus.   

Read the full Government of B.C. full joint statement here                    
STAFF SAFETY
Employees and medical staff should not be at work if experiencing symptoms

To ensure the safety of our patients, clients, residents and each other, employees and medical staff should not be working if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing). They should get tested immediately and self-isolate at home.

SATELLITE TESTING CENTRES

Satellite testing centres for all symptomatic employees and medical staff (including security, housekeeping, medical residents, medical students, contract providers and other support workers) have been or soon will be set up at sites listed below. 

LOCATIONS
  • Vancouver Acute Services
    • Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, 818 West 10th Avenue, Main floor lecture hall
    • Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (hours may be extended as required)
  • Vancouver Community Services - Scheduled opening for March 18
    • Raven Song CHC, 2450 Ontario St, Vancouver
    • Days/Hours TBD
  • Coastal
    • Lions Gate Hospital, 231 East 15th Street, North Vancouver, Gymnasium
    • Monday to Sunday (7 days a week), 9 am to 7 pm
  • Richmond
    • Planning in progress for satellite centre. More information to come.
STAFF SAFETY
Updated testing criteria for medical staff and patients

All returning travellers, including from the U.S., are now asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Testing is available, but should be offered only to those for whom the test will change patient management. All others presenting with mild respiratory symptoms should be advised to self-isolate at home for 14 days from initial symptom onset.

WHO SHOULD BE TESTED FOR COVID-19?


Patients with respiratory symptoms who are:
  • Hospitalized, or likely to be hospitalized
  • Health care workers
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Part of an investigation of a cluster or outbreak (this testing will be organized by Public Health)

WHO SHOULD NOT BE TESTED FOR COVID-19?
  • Patients without symptoms
  • Patients with mild respiratory symptoms, who can be managed at home. This includes returning travellers with an onset of illness within 14 days of return to Canada.
Please advise patients with or without a history of travel, who have mild respiratory symptoms that can be managed at home, to self-isolate at home for 14 days after the initial onset of their symptoms.

Read the full updated guidance memo here.
POLICY UPDATE
Update on working remotely for VCH employees

Over the weekend, the Government of Canada recommended that “all Canadians who can work from home should do that now.” In response, over the next few days we are working diligently to implement a plan to ensure the maximum number of staff whose jobs can are able to work remotely where possible. 
 
Considerations will be job roles and responsibilities, direct clinical care and the IT system’s overall capacity to support remote access. That said, we are actively exploring ways to increase the system’s capacity.  At this time, please hold off on submitting IMITS requests to work remotely as we are establishing a prioritization framework.
 
In the meantime, so long as you are healthy, and are not required to self-isolate, you should continue to report to work. Thank you for your patience, we will be sending you further information by tomorrow. We are incredibly grateful to you for your hard work and flexibility during this time. ​ 

Brett Sparks, Vice President, Employee Engagement

Read the full memo here
POLICY UPDATE
Change in fit-test frequency and fit-test sessions

On Friday, the Ministry of Health mandated that the frequency of fit testing for health authority staff will be temporarily changed from a one-year requirement to a two-year requirement. This is effective immediately until further notice. The Manager Fit Testing Reports available on the Manager Resource Centre (HR reports) have been updated to reflect this change.
 
EMPLOYEE SAFETY FIT-TEST SESSIONS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

As a result of these changes and to help preserve our provincial stock of respirators and reduce any unnecessary use, all N95 respirators fit-test sessions will be cancelled effective Monday, March 16 until further notice.
 
With these changes, the majority of departments now have significant percentage of their staff with a valid fit-test. As a result, departments should have sufficiently fit-tested staff available at any given time. Departments are required to utilize staff members that have been fit-tested within the past two years to provide care for patients where an N95 respirator is required (e.g. airborne precautions, performing Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures on droplet precautions patients). If you do not have sufficient staff fit tested in your department to meet this need, contact EmployeeSafety@VCH.ca.
 
All department-run fit testing sessions must be cancelled unless there is insufficient staff fit-tested.
 
If your department has been working with the Employee Safety team to support fit-testing needs, please wait to hear from them for further information and whether any of these efforts will continue in your department.
 
If you have any questions please direct them to EmployeeSafety@VCH.ca.
POLICY UPDATE
Canadian Medical Protective Association COVID-19 guidelines

The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) has reviewed their protection process and provided the following guidance to members:
  • The CMPA will continue to provide members with liability protection for medical-legal difficulties arising as a result of care provided in Canada in the context of the COVID-19 efforts.
  • The association will generally exercise its discretion to extend assistance to members who provide medical care outside their usual field of practice or who provide care in Canada, but outside their designated province of work.
  • During the pandemic, members are not required to inform the CMPA of a change in Type of Work (TOW) or Province of Work (POW) prior to commencing their efforts.
  • Physicians will be encouraged to consult with the relevant medical regulators (colleges) to ensure the appropriate licensing approvals are in place related to their province of work and scope of practice.
  • We will reinforce the fact that despite the challenging conditions of a pandemic, physicians will be relied on to act professionally on behalf of their patients.
  • We will remind members to document their rationale for decisions under crisis situations to assist in the event of medical-legal difficulties.
RETIRED PHYSICIANS
  • Physicians who are no longer members but are seeking membership in order to assist with the pandemic response will be able to submit their application online.
  • Re-applications will be prioritized with a target processing time of no more than two business days
  • They will be registered in Type of Work (TOW) 8 (Humanitarian Category) which represents the lowest fee category.
  • CMPA membership services and physician advisors are available to provide support throughout the pandemic and can be reached at 1-800-267-6522 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.
STAFF SAFETY 
Beware of COVID-19 scams/phishing emails

The sensitive global environment regarding COVID-19 is being used by cybercriminals to tap into fears with phishing emails designed to steal money, snag your personal information and infect computers. Be careful with anything related to COVID-19: emails, attachments, any social media, texts on your phone, etc.
 
Consider these tips to protect yourself:
  • Pay attention to sender’s email address: If the email address doesn’t come from a source that’s recognizable to you, then best to avoid the email as it could be a phishing attack. 
  • Never enter data that a website shouldn’t be asking for: A site that’s open to the public, such as the CDC or WHO, will never ask for your login credentials. 
  • Check the URL before you type it in or click a link: If you hover over the link without clicking on it, you’ll see the real address it leads to. If the address is different than the link description, then this is a red flag that the email and link are malicious and shouldn’t be clicked.
Accidentally clicked on a link?
If you accidentally clicked on a link and entered your credentials, immediately:
1. Reset your password.
2.  Contact the Service Desk at 604-675-4299.
 
If you receive a suspicious email, forward the email directly to spam@phsa.ca.
MESSAGE FROM EMPLOYEE WELLNESS
Vancouver Coastal Health is a caring community. We are an amazing, dedicated group of compassionate employees and medical staff who take care of our patients every day, providing the best care possible, in the most caring way.
 
As we manage through COVID-19 together, we're also aware of just how connected we are. We are all doing our best, and we know it isn't going to be perfect. We understand that everyone at VCH is  working very hard to keep our patients, clients, residents and ourselves safe and healthy.
 
This is a time to be here for each other, and we are doing it as an incredible group of people. Some of us are scared and anxious, but we know this is the time to come together and help each other. We are seeing this in our halls, in our rooms and in our offices daily. We are seeing so many lovely  examples of  "how can I help?” and it's heartening to see. We are staying kind and compassionate and calm, and we will continue to rise together to be there for those we care for and for each other.
 
If you would like some additional support for yourself or your team please call Employee Wellness at 1-800-872-4929.
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