Northern Health Ebola threat action

Low likelihood of Ebola cases in B.C., but government is making sure the province is prepared.

According to Michael Mcmillan, northern interior’s Chief Operating Officer for Northern Health, every single hospital in the province is implementing triage and screening protocols for Ebola.

Hospitals staff are being instructed on what to do if someone has been identified as a suspected case. An Ebola preparedness task force has been put in place. The task force has been meeting regularly to review B.C.’s protocols to respond to the “unlikely occurrence of a case of Ebola arriving in the province.”

The task force has designated the following sites as regional centres to assess those at higher risk of having Ebola and to treat confirmed Ebola cases: Lower Mainland: Surrey Memorial Hospital; Island Health: Royal Jubilee Hospital; Interior Health: Kelowna General Hospital; Northern Health: University Hospital of Northern B.C.; and Pediatric Clients: BC Children’s Hospital.

“These sites will be the focus of training for staff on the protocols for health-care workers who would be engaged with a confirmed patient or a patient under investigation,” said Health Minister Terry Lake in a press release. “Emergency room and front-line staff at all other health-care facilities are also being trained to receive, isolate and triage any symptomatic individual of interest with risk of exposure to Ebola.”

According to the health minister, the task force has been “reviewing the most effective measures to protect health-care workers and the public.”

“Updated guidelines have been developed with advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s national expert group. Staff will be fully covered, with no skin showing – equipment will include full body suits, long, fully impervious gowns, separate level 4 hoods, face shields, surgical masks and N95 respirator masks. Protocols will also include a buddy system for staff – where one staff member will observe the other donning and doffing protective equipment to ensure there is no risk for self-contamination.”

The task force has also organized weekly stakeholder engagement teleconferences with affected regulatory colleges – including the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Registered Nurses of BC and the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of BC, bargaining associations – including the BCNU, HSA and HEU, the Doctors of BC, the BC Professional Firefighters Association and the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C., to provide information and answer questions about Ebola.

“B.C. officials continue to work with their colleagues across the country and with the Public Health Agency of Canada to ensure consistent development and use of best practices,” said Lake in a press release.

“While there is an extremely low likelihood that Northern Health will have to deal with it [Ebola cases], we are taking every precaution to make sure that we are ready, that we will protect staff and patients to the highest level possible,” said McMillan.

For further questions about Ebola, call 811.