A message from Northern Health - Friday, March 27, 2020
In these challenging times, we want to take a moment to assure you we have been working diligently and tirelessly in coordination with the province and the country on a collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are not alone in this crisis. We are a part of a system that is working very hard to minimize the impact of the challenges we face. This begins with a role everyone has – social distancing, avoiding mass gatherings, self-isolation where appropriate and hand hygiene – please help be part of the solution!
We also want to assure you that local and regional preparations are well under way. Over the last few weeks we have been following the Provincial Health Officer’s direction in implementing actions that will help keep people safe in their communities and create capacity in our hospitals by managing elective procedures and prioritizing urgent care. In addition, we are working on Phase Three planning, which fully focuses on critical care, acute care, patient transportation, and health human resource planning. We are nearing completion of those plans over the next week.
Our staff are on the front lines, from housekeepers through to nurses, as well as physicians. Above all, we ask you to stay calm, react only to factual information, and follow our Public Health Orders from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. We have attached a community guide. It provides more details on the planning work we are doing, as well as information and resources to assist you. We will continue to keep you updated through weekly updates, as well as through social media, the web, and other public communications.
Thanking you in advance for your continued cooperation.
Colleen Nyce Cathy Ulrich Raina Fumerton
NH Board Chair CEO Chief Medical Health Officer (Acting)
Provincial case counts and statement
NH is part of a provincial and national system that includes effective patient transportation systems when needed. This work also includes a focused approach in putting in place, with their clinical and support staff, a four- to six-week staffing schedule that redeploys staff as necessary to provide for the critical care needs required. In addition, as part of the preparation, we are managing our critical care inventory, including ventilators. Additional ventilators have been ordered, some have arrived provincially, and they will be deployed appropriately and where the need is. This is in addition to stock that has been/is undergoing refurbishment.
More details on Northern Health’s outbreak response:
Phases 1 and 2: Complete
Phases 2 and 3: Currently under way
Industry: We recognize that industrial camps provide an environment that can foster the transmission of infections from person to person. NH has been and continues to contact camps and projects across the region, to discuss infection prevention and control measures that can be taken by industrial camps in response to COVID-19. This includes (but is not limited to): cleaning and sanitation procedures, handwashing stations, protocols for responding to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, social distancing measures, food handling, workforce screening, and plans to minimize travel and scale down workforces
Construction: Employers in the construction industry have been asking for clarity regarding what recent orders by the Provincial Health Officer mean for them. On March 22, the Province of BC issued an information bulletin providing guidance to construction sites operating during COVID-19. The updated guidance clarifies that the order prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people does not currently apply to construction sites as a whole.
Rather, the Public Health Officer is directing employers to take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves and their employees. This includes limiting gatherings to less than 50 people in the same space in any circumstances, maintaining a distance of 2 metres between employees where possible, reducing in-person meetings, increasing handwashing stations, cleaning common areas and surfaces daily, and ensuring anyone with COVID-19 symptoms self-isolates at home for 14 days.
Physical distancing saves lives by reducing the chance you will become infected. It also slows the spread of infection over a longer period of time, so Northern Health has a better chance of keeping up. It’s everyone’s responsibility to practice social distancing, whether you have symptoms or not.
You can self-assess for COVID-19, and the app will also send you the latest updates, trusted resources and alerts.
Also, BC has a self-assessment website – bc.thrive.health – to help people decide whether they need assessing or testing.
For current information on restrictions on travel, gatherings and other issues, see the Provincial Health Officer’s webpage on current health topics. This page has links to the latest joint statements and orders issued by the Provincial Health Officer and a link to the Government of Canada’s travel advice and advisories.