I am pretty sure you would all agree that maintaining staffing over the next few months as we face a likely surge of hospitalizations is going to be our biggest challenge.
Supporting our Health PEI team and the organization is paramount to the overall COVID-19 response. Our new vision is “Healthy Teams, Healthy People, Healthy Island Communities” and you really can place an arrow between each of these – Health teams at Health PEI lead to health for the people we serve and healthier communities. These aren’t just words, and I want you to know we’re committed to supporting you for your sake and for the sake of the province.
I thought it would be helpful to outline what has worked here and elsewhere and what our plans suggest are good approaches:
- Clearly as we get a sense that hospitalizations are coming based on the number of active cases in the community, we will need to scale back to non-essential services where it will free up the staff with the right skill set to help out in other areas that cannot be stopped and might be impacted. This includes our medical staff who will be asked to help out in other areas such as the Emergency Department, wherever the need is greatest, and where it is appropriate;
- Attempting to second clinical staff from other areas or government. I’ve asked government to revisit the plans of 20 months ago to request staff from Veteran’s Affairs, for example;
- Signing on external agencies to help us with vaccination and testing—we have already done this and a small group will join us this coming week;
- Paying staff to be on call to come back if we need their services. We want to use this sparingly as possible. It has nothing to do with the money and everything to do with wanting to give people as much of a break over the holidays as we safely can.
- Rethinking the current quarantine and isolation requirements for exposed staff. This will be done in conjunction with CPHO. As we have more community spread, more and more of our staff will be sent off on quarantine and require repeat testing. We can tolerate a bit of this, but eventually, this has the potential to empty Health PEI of staff. Obviously, we will need to reach a point where we cannot afford to send off asymptomatic people as a precaution.
- Moving to new care models such as team-based care, when required. This concept allows us to spread out our resources a bit more and is a well-known approach used in other provinces but also during emergencies around the world.
We will update you every step of the way as we go through our first real wave of COVID on the island.
Thank you to all the members of our excellent team who are working hard right now to respond and prepare for coming cases, including testing teams, vaccinations teams, and lab staff.
Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to email@example.com, subject line “Notes for Michael”.