B.C. health workers finally limited to one site months after order

B.C. government has for months been working to make this happen

Months after B.C.'s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry ordered all workers at seniors' care homes and other healthcare sites work solely at one location, the order is finally being fully adhered to, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix.

The cost? About $10 million per month. 

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"All 501 sites, or 100% of sites across all health authorities have now implemented single-site staffing," Dix said June 18. "All 8,878 employees who previously worked at multiple sites are now assigned to a single site."

Having care-home employees work exclusively at one site is important because, as Henry said on June 15: "most of the outbreaks in long-term care have been from healthcare workers bringing it into the facility."

Several dozen of these homes have had outbreaks so far. 

The six long-term care facilities with active outbreaks are:
•Abbotsford's Tabor long-term care home;
•Langley's Maple Hill long-term care home;
•Vancouver's Holy Family Hospital;
•Port Coquitlam's Nicola Lodge;
•Langley's Langley Lodge; and
•Abbotsford's Valhaven Home.

There is also an outbreak at Mission Memorial Hospital, which spawned the outbreaks at Tabor and at Maple Hill.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 588 cases in B.C. that are related to seniors' homes: 365 residents, and 223 staff.

Henry has explained on multiple occasions that executing her order was a complex problem. On April 2, she called it a "monumental task." Challenges included the byzantine nature of contractual arrangements. Some agreements were unionized, while other others were with a variety of private employers. 

Dix said the Ministry of Health collaborated with the Health Employers Association of B.C., health authorities and other partners to develop what he called a "wage-levelling guide," and a funding template for facility operators. 

"We have determined the process to disburse funding to health authorities through to employers – a method by which we'll monitor the commitments and expenditures," he said. 

"Facilities are currently completing their data to submit to health authorities so funding can start to flow. Individual wage increases will be retroactive to the date the site was placed under a single-site staffing order."

Dix made the announcement after he and Henry provided the latest data on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province. 

The best news of the day is that B.C. continues to have few deaths as a result of the novel coronavirus. There were no new deaths from that virus identified in the past 24 hours, leaving the death toll at 168. B.C. has only had one COVID-19-related death in the past 12 days. 

Eight people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, making a total of 2,783 people infected since late January, when the virus first appeared in the province.

The breakdown of all COVID-19 infections by health region is:
• 950 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 1,441 in Fraser Health;
• 130 in Island Health;
• 197 in Interior Health; and
• 65 in Northern Health.

Of the 190 people actively battling the illness, only 10 are in hospital, with five of those in intensive care units. 

That leaves more than 87%, or 2,425 people who have recovered. 

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom 

 

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