Note from Michael, Apr. 4, 2022 | COVID-19 Update and Immunization Policy Update

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

Hi Everybody:

It has been a few weeks since my last update email. Unfortunately, the past two weeks have been more of the same—the province continues to experience very high levels of community COVID-19 cases.  This has created some real difficulties for us in terms of outbreaks and staff illness.  I want to thank all of you who have been working through this stretch, which has felt a bit like treading water while holding a brick!

Fortunately, because of high levels of vaccination and relatively easy access to Paxlovid and other treatments, the proportion of people getting serious illness remains manageable.

A few indicators are suggesting we are at or just beyond our peak in cases, so I am hoping the next few weeks will show a steady decline in community cases which will make our lives easier at HPEI.  In anticipation of the case counts dropping, EOC has been working on what things we will need to change from our current approach.  This is a brief overview of what we are looking at right now:

  1. We continue to strongly encourage vaccination, including getting booster shots.  It is a mystery to me why many Canadians have in general not embraced booster shots the way they embraced the primary series. Boosters restore much of the protection from the primary series that otherwise significantly wanes after 6 months. I suspect we will be getting approval relatively soon for a second booster shot. That being said, we do have some changes coming for the very few of you who are not vaccinated. 

    The updated COVID-19 Immunization and Management Policy removes the requirement to vaccinate or test for existing unvaccinated staff. Newly hired staff are required to be fully vaccinated. Testing is still being done for symptomatic staff and work-isolating staff as per the Contact Tracing and Work Isolation Protocol. In long-term care, all staff are still required to rapid test prior to every shift, however, unvaccinated staff in LTC no longer have to be witnessed when tested. 

    - COVID-19 Immunization and Management Policy (available on the PDMS website, log-in and search)
    - Long-Term Care COVID-19 Health PEI Employee FAQs
    - Long-Term Care Antigen Testing Guidelines
     
  2. Those of you who have been working from home should start thinking about what returning to the workplace might look like for you in the next few weeks. We are not ready to bring people back yet and some people may be in a position to consider working from home on a longer basis. Human Resources will be sending around our revised work from home policy later this week, which outlines under what circumstances people may be able to stay working from home;
     
  3. Our COVID-19 infection prevention and control practices are not going to significantly change over the coming weeks, even if the province further relaxes public health measures in the community. We have to protect our healthcare facilities and that means, for example, that we will be masking and requiring physical distancing for a while yet.  This is consistent with every other province. I expect we will only see significant changes to our Canadian IPAC practices later in the summer;
     
  4. We have recently moved away from concentrating our COVID admissions to unit 3 at QEH. During the past 3 months, our system has shown it is more than capable of managing COVID patients in place, unless patients are sick enough to require more aggressive treatment and interventions;
     
  5. Similarly, we have closed the Cough and Fever clinics and have moved the management of mild COVID cases back to primary care;
     
  6. We eventually will largely move towards only testing people where a positive result will change management i.e., initiate antiviral treatment.  We currently are still testing all admissions and all patients pre-operations, but likewise that will change at some point this spring.  We will be discussing with the ORs whether there is comfort with us stopping routine pre-op day surgery patients unless they are symptomatic.

To sum up, there are lots of plans in the works to get us towards a more normal state, but we are probably still a couple of weeks away from starting to implement these plans. Things are still pretty hot these days and we will hold off making significant changes until we know it is safe to do so.

Thanks again for all of your work getting us through the past two years and especially the last three months.

Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to emclean@gov.pe.ca, subject line “Notes for Michael”.

Last Updated
Tue, 04/05/2022 - 10:33