COVID-19 GGH Update March 23

It has been a difficult day with the news that two staff have tested positive for COVID-19. It was likely to happen but it’s still a bit unnerving. Please continue to follow good hand hygiene and routine infection prevention protocols. In addition, continue to self-monitor for signs of respiratory illness (fever >38, new or worsening cough and/or difficulty breathing). If you develop symptoms, go home, inform EHS and your director.

In the meantime, IMS continues to work hard behind the scenes making contingency plans, ensuring adequate supplies, keeping staff well informed, to name just a few of its activities.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for everyone to complete their Hand Hygiene elearning module and we ask everyone who has not completed it do so this week.  To make it more accessible, the module has been converted to a PDF and uploaded to our web site. That way, it can be reviewed anywhere. For those who do it this way please email your Director when completed. Directors will be following up with staff to ensure this module is completed asap. We recognize this is a very stressful time, and our OD department has refreshed its staff wellness resource page with available options and FAQs.

In order to better meet clinical needs, Stores is expanding its hours and enhancing its restocking. More details to follow.

By the way, Social Distancing also applies to smokers. Please don’t congregate out front while taking your break.

Redeployment of staff

Finally, over the weekend the provincial government announced that a temporary order had been issued under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). The order gives hospitals the ability to implement redeployment plans to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The details as shared from the Ontario Hospital Association are:

The temporary order applies to hospitals, psychiatric facilities and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. It directs and authorizes these health service providers to take reasonably necessary measures that facilitate the safe and efficient redeployment of staff to those areas where they are most required to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order also authorizes these providers to take these measures irrespective of any collective agreement, statute, regulation, policy, arrangement or any other type of agreement.

The temporary order refers to redeployment activities such as:

  • Redeploying staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the health services provider;
  • Redeploying staff to work in COVID-19 assessment centres;
  • Changing the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work;
  • Changing the scheduling of work or shift assignments;
  • Deferring or canceling vacations, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise;
  • Employing extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work;
  • Using volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining work;
  • Providing appropriate training or education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan;
  • Conducting skills and experience inventories, requiring the collection of information from employees about their ability to provide services and likely or actual exposure to COVID-19; and
  • Temporary suspension of the grievance process for the duration of the order.

For clarity, this order does not suspend the operation of all of the provisions of collective agreements or human resources policies.  It only applies with respect to the suspension of those provisions that are necessary to satisfy the redeployment objectives outlined in the order. Other collective agreement provisions continue to be in effect.

And finally, to end on a positive note, there has been an outpouring of support from our community. As an example, we’re working with many businesses that have supplies to donate. Just today, we’ve sourced masks, gowns and face-shields. And tomorrow, the Foundation will be launching a COVID-19 Critical Response Fund to give the Hospital the ability to address changing circumstances and priorities head on, and support the most urgent needs during this pandemic. Even before its launch, close to $50,000 has been raised!