Note from Michael, Jan. 12, 2022 | Monitoring Omicron and keeping our teams healthy

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

Hi Everybody:

It has been a few days since I last sent around an update, largely because not a whole lot has changed. We continue to see a small number of COVID-related admissions to QEH each day—certainly nothing like the surges other provinces are seeing, where their healthcare systems are in danger of collapsing under unprecedented numbers of admissions combined with high staff absenteeism. 

I have to admit I am surprised (and happy) we have not seen more hospitalizations and I am unsure why that is; it could be they will start to show up in the next week or so, or perhaps our high level of vaccination and our public health measures have been enough to slow the wave down. 

We are trying to walk a fine line between being prepared for a surge in cases while applying a very light touch to our healthcare system by minimizing the number of service disruptions like cancelling elective surgeries. We are looking ahead about 48 hours at a time and trying to anticipate what might be coming our way and act accordingly.  

Below are some important updates and reminders for this week’s roundup.

Maintaining our staffing by following protocols
Ensuring as many people as possible are healthy and able to work is a big part of our strategy. While we are still managing to keep our services operational, we are seeing more and more close contacts being created at work by people not following proper protocols, especially around eating.

For example, we have had cases where a staff member ate lunch with a colleague but was not physically distanced at work, in a smaller eating space. The staff member later tests positive, and the whole core team becomes a close contact. This happens in clinical areas as well, where staff sometimes take down a mask to take a drink or talk. We simply cannot continue to do these things on units. 

Moving forward, I ask that you please remember and follow the below requirements closely:

  • No food or drink permitted in clinical areas. 
  • Eating and drinking to occur in designated break areas only.
  • All break areas to be measured, with spaces marked to ensure staff are physically distanced when eating and drinking.
  • All break rooms are to have it clearly marked the maximum number of people allowed in at one time.
  • Staggering of breaks to ensure the maximum number of people is followed.

I know none of this is fun or easy but keeping you all healthy and at work is a priority so you can be safe and so you can care for Islanders who need us. 

Revised ER Screening
The ER Screening Tool has been slightly revised.  This version replaces all previous versions.

Redeployment Survey
Part of our response planning includes requesting staff from across Health PEI to identify if they have time and ability to be redeployed for the COVID response. A survey was sent last week asking for volunteers, and you can still fill it out here:

We are looking for volunteers at this point (paid volunteers, of course!)

Vaccine planning
Over the past few weeks, our vaccine planning team has been working non-stop to set up primary series and booster dose clinics and these started in full force this week.  If you are eligible for a booster and have not yet booked it, please go ahead and do so. Booster doses definitely decrease the risk of becoming infecting with Omicron and hence, decrease the spread to others. I got my last week and it was a very well-organized affair. You can go to one of the Health PEI public clinics, or you can book through Employee Health, if that’s more convenient. 

Visit Third Dose Vaccine Clinics for Staff for the Employee Health clinic schedule. You can also book on the regular app for all other clinics.

Testing guidance update coming
Our lab team and operations have also been working diligently with CPHO to determine who we should be testing and using which method. As we have seen across Canada, the testing strategies we have used up until Omicron have all become overwhelmed and we have had to rethink who really needs to be tested versus wanting to test everybody with symptoms. The new guidance document is expected to be available very soon.

Provincial Bed Flow 
Health PEI operates as an Island-wide health authority with part of its mandate to ensure the stability of care for Islanders. With increasing COVID admissions to hospital, the requirement to ensure capacity is available at the QEH, where most COVID patients will be cared for, has grown. To help reserve capacity for to be ready for an increase in people admitted with COVID to QEH, a provincial patient flow system was set up to respond to the needs of the system to care for all patients. 

I know there has been some rumblings of concern about this process, and I understand those. However, it is necessary to make best use of all health system beds. The new system means a patient being cared for in any hospital could be moved to another location to help maintain necessary capacity where it is needed.

One of the most important features of the patient flow system is that it is collaborative.  The provincial patient flow team works collaboratively with each facility to facilitate patient movement. A dedicated physician lead, Dr. Jill Cunniffe, works with the team to facilitate patient moves and support focused discharges and liaise with attending physicians. 

We’re one team made up of many teams, and we may not always agree on final decisions, but we will work on them together. 

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

Last Updated
Mon, 05/23/2022 - 19:27