March break is next week, and I know that many of you who are able to take time off are planning to do so. I hope you have a restful break and it is an opportunity to disconnect from Health PEI for a while to enjoy yourselves with your families and friends. Everyone needs a break, and for those who can’t take one right now, I hope you are able to soon. Health PEI will prioritize ensuring that happens in the not too distant future.
From a COVID perspective, we are seeing the most community cases we have ever seen in the province. Thankfully, we have not seen the same spike in hospitalizations. It’s likely that we’ll see fewer cases reported across the Island for the next few days as testing of some close contacts has decreased. I do expect there will be many more cases though, as people are tested when they return from travelling during March break. The risk of COVID on PEI is similar to the risk everywhere else now, so travelling itself isn’t the same kind of concern it was two years ago. Because of this, we will have to be prepared for an increase in known positive cases after March break. As people returning from travel develop symptoms and are tested, there may be some corresponding impacts on staffing levels as well.
The Health PEI Emergency Operations Centre will continue to closely monitor the COVID situation and its impact on health care. Staff positives and people having to isolate with family members are our greatest pressure points.
As all of you are too familiar with, just a few staff being out in certain services can drastically affect our ability to offer care. If our numbers of positives start to impact our ability to offer life saving or maintaining services, we will need to look at contingencies, including allowing positive cases to work if they are feeling relatively well. We hope it doesn’t get to that point, but we’re prepared to respond if it does. We plan to be monitoring things daily over the weekend and all through the March break. If we need to scale back services to protect our core operations, like the Emergency Departments, we will do so.
We are committed to continuing to look at the data as we monitor the situation, including staff related details. Everyone is reminded to follow the protocols for staff work isolation. It’s important that staff report to their managers if they have symptoms, test positive or need to isolate, and managers need to be diligent to enter positive staff into the data base to we can maintain a good sense of where staffing pressures are emerging.
PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES
As all this is happening, public health measures continue to be relaxed. For many of us in our personal lives, this is welcome news, as the severity of the disease and vaccination booster dose rates mean these measures can be reduced.
However, I want to remind everyone that within the health system and Health PEI buildings and workplaces, our policies may be more restrictive than in the public as we serve vulnerable populations and offer critical services. The health system impacts are being monitored daily and our own plans will evolve to reflect moving on with COVID while maintaining staffing and services. An easing of measures for the public does not necessarily correspond to a change within our work areas. Please wait for direction from the COVID response before making changes to your practices and protocols.
I recognize some of the above sounds worrisome. It is challenging, but you’ve all shown we are dedicated and up to the task as a system.
If you not are feeling well, if you are in need of support and help during this time, the Health PEI team is here for you. The Wellness Line is running – call if you need support. EAP resources have been increased and are available to you. The leadership team knows supporting staff is supporting the health care system, and it’s the priority we all share. If you are experiencing challenges, don’t be afraid to bring them forward.
Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “Notes for Michael”.