Vancouver – Holy Family Hospital appears to be defeating the purpose of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order for single site work for care workers to prevent spread of Covid-19.
The Providence run Holy Family long term facility is in the midst of a major outbreak with 12 staff, 37 seniors infected and 5 dead.
Yet it allows nurses who work on Covid-19 patients to also work on those who are not infected yet, according to questions and answers posted on the Hospital’s website.
The questions and answers are from a town hall meeting held by the administration with anxious relatives.
The single site work order was signed by Dr. Henry on March 17 under her powers during a declared health emergency.
“A person infected with SARS-CoV-2 can infect other people with whom the infected person is in contact,” said the order.
“The movement of people such as employees, contracted workers and volunteers who are routinely present at long term care facilities, private hospitals and public can promote the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and increase the risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 of persons in care…”
Henry therefore ordered staff to work in only one care facility to avoid importation of the virus because many worked shifts in other facilities and were suspected sources of outbreaks.
“Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the single site directive to limit health care workers to working in only one facility as a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable seniors,” Fraser Health reported in a bulletin.
“Facilities currently covered in the orders include private hospitals, stand-alone extended care hospitals, licensed long-term care, registered assisted living and provincial mental health facilities.
“The orders do not apply to home support, acute care hospitals or extended care units physically located within acute care hospitals.”
BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said this month: “All 8,878 employees who previously worked at multiple sites are now assigned to a single site.”
The cost of this move is $10 million per month.
And Henry has said earlier that; “most of the outbreaks in long-term care have been from healthcare workers bringing it into the facility.”
That begs the question: what’s the difference between importing Covid-19 from another site; and transferring it between patients inside an outbreak zone?
A question from a participant in the Holy Family Town Hall was as follows:
“Can I know if the infected (i.e. COVID positive) staff were dealing with my family member or not? Are the same staff caring for both positive and negative residents?”
The answer from an executive member was: “When health care workers are identified as having COVID-19, they are not working until they have been deemed recovered and non-infectious.”
“We try to cohort health care workers caring for residents who have COVID-19 whenever possible.”
“However, when staffing levels do not permit this, health care workers will care for residents with and without COVID-19.”
And this raises the dangerous possibility of staff spreading the infection from those afflicted to those not Covid-19 positive. Holy Family so far has identified 12 staff with infections.
“While caring for any resident, health care workers are educated on and practice infection prevention and control measures (hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment) to reduce risk of transmission.”
But the big question remains and the answer may never be known.
Have staff contributed to spread by working on Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients during the staff shortage?