Note from Michael, Dec. 22, 2021 | PPE will protect you

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

Hi everyone, 

Things are changing fast and furious.  We have gone almost two years without health care workers getting COVID and now we are seeing new cases pop up every day. I realize this is a big shift but we have to wrap our heads around it. 

This was expected and has nothing to do with the precautions we are using in our health care facilities; the precautions wok.  In fact, we will continue to see more staff cases in the coming few weeks, and almost all of this relates to widespread community transmission. Our facilities will spread COVID far, far less than in the community. 
 
I need you to know that your Personal Protective Equipment and Infection Prevention and Control protocols do protect you. I know I talk about by Ontario experience often, and I try to keep it to a minimum, but I think it’s important to note here. Of the hundreds of cases we have seen at my hospitals in Toronto, COVID-19 transmission from a patient to a staff member is very rare. 

A lot of this fear comes from SARS.  I was on the frontlines then and yes, it was almost entirely spread in hospitals and it was very scary to be in one. This is not the case with this virus. When there is widespread community disease, we will see cases in our workers and cases in patients. This is to be expected and all we can do is try to minimize how much is spreading in our facilities while public health uses measures to try to slow the spread in the community.

What I am getting at is this: just because a patient or a staff member is identified as infected, it does not mean that everybody working in that area is a contact. The key indicators we use to determine whether you were a contact or not are whether you have had 3 doses of vaccine, whether you were wearing PPE, and the circumstances around the contact i.e. how long, how close etc. Infection Prevention and Control will be asking Managers to provide this information before decisions are made regarding who needs to be tested.  

Please do not take matters into your hands and make demands of the lab or the Emergency Department for testing.  Our lab is inundated with test requests and it is not appropriate to add more volume without determining whether it is needed from an infection control standpoint. 

Starting soon, we will stop sending contacts home awaiting testing, and will allow them to continue to work while doing regular testing using a combination of antigen tests and the ID Now machines. This was always in the plans and it has been a bit delayed while we work out the process between CPHO and us and we had access to more ID Now testing machines in our facilities. 

We will also be calling back those who have been sent home earlier as contacts.  If these contacts turn positive, then they will be sent home for 7 days until the end of their illness.  This protocol will come into effect soon and will be shared with all staff. We will assess this protocol every day and decide if any further changes are needed in the coming days to weeks. 
  
I know it’s a lot. We’re here to support you as we continue to care for Islanders, no matter their COVID status. 
 
Please speak with your manager if your anxious or concerned; please access information on the Staff Resource Centre to keep your knowledge up to date; please contact Employee Assistance Program if you are struggling and need confidential help.
 
I’ll continue to keep you informed as best I can, and the leadership team is working day and night to ensure the organization is prepared and responding in the best possible ways.

We’re all in this together. 

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

Last Updated
Wed, 12/22/2021 - 20:56