CEO MESSAGE: Managing COVID & Influenza this season

From the desk of Dr. Michael Gardam, Health PEI CEO


Notes from MichaelHi everyone, 

It’s been a while since my last email to staff -- I know you are hearing more and more from leaders across the system and our newsletters as we continue to build our internal communications. All of which means you don’t need to hear from me quite as often!

However, I want to personally update you on our respiratory illness season, the impact of COVID and how we’re handling outbreaks, COVID and influenza patients, and limiting staff infections. Currently, Canada is seeing levels of COVID we haven’t seen in a year while influenza and RSV are still fairly low but climbing. 

Throughout the pandemic, Infection Prevention and Control has worked very closely with patient flow to ensure that transfers from the emergency department are not held up. Sometimes it can be easy for infection prevention and control protocols to be a scapegoat for our serious overcapacity issues.  But our hospital overcrowding is about more than COVID and flu cases – it’s about lack of staff and the overall numbers of people requiring care, and many more variables. 

Even when we were closing beds during outbreaks (earlier on in the pandemic when we were required to do so under the public health order), IPAC measures only contributed to a small of number of bed closures. 

Our current outbreak practices very rarely close beds. In many cases, there are no empty beds to admit to on an outbreak unit as we are routinely running very full across our system, but if there are, IPAC has almost always found patients to place in those beds—typically we are able to place patients with COVID or recently recovered from other parts of the system . We need to stop equating an outbreak with closed beds.  They are not the same thing and have not been for a long time.


To more fully understand our IPAC Protocols, please read them on the Staff Resource Centre. 

Our IPAC philosophy is a practical one. It is readily recognized that holding too many people in the ED to protect the wards poses a potential patient safety risk in the ED that is greater than admitting the patient to the ward.  This has been a top concern of IPAC and myself. The larger question of why we bother to control the spread of infectious diseases at all in healthcare facilities has been argued for centuries and is not something we are going to be able to resolve here.  I will say however, that there are practice norms across the country that are well understood, and ignoring them would be a risk to the organization.
WHAT YOU CAN DO (get your vaccine and mask appropriately)

While the our IPAC and Patient Flow teams will be working closely with our units and emergency departments to maintain as much capacity as possible during any COVID or flu uptick, there things every staff person can do to help on this front. 

First and foremost, please get your vaccines! Employee Health vaccination clinics are available now. I have attached a copy of the schedule, as well as our respiratory illness policy, staff protocol, and recently shared memos from Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness. These are also available on the Staff Resource Centre.

Monitoring vaccination rates is not as clear cut as in previous years, as the timing of your dose is affected by whether you had COVID recently, when you had your last dose, etc. 

However, there are many people who qualify for the new dose and have not gotten it. 

The newest COVID vaccines are more targeted toward the current viruses circulating, and you can get this one at the same time as you receive you flu shot. If you are sick, stay home and report to your manager, as per our protocol. This helps us know how many people we need and where. 


I am often asked why we don’t require visitors to mask, except in outbreak areas. The benefit of asking all visitors to mask is questionable given that we are not requiring masking in the community. Doing so would require staff to try to enforce this rule, and I really loathe putting our healthcare workers in that position. 

We do encourage masking for people in our facilities, and as always, every staff member is welcome to wear mask above and beyond any clinical requirement. 

I hope this helps clarify our approach to respiratory season and mitigating its impact on our overcrowding problem. The leadership team is watching this closely and will provide updates as needed. 




Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to, subject line “Notes for Michael”.


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