Bayshore | | Chief Nursing Officer Updates
It has been a long 9 weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Throughout this time we have sent you communications to keep you informed regarding COVID-19 and the required practices to keep you and our staff safe. I am now writing to you to personally thank you, our patients and families, for the incredible support we have received through this difficult time. Words cannot convey how grateful Bayshore HealthCare is for your continued commitment, positivity and understanding of the changes that have taken place in effort to continue to deliver you high quality care and services as we evolve into our ‘new normal’.
As the Chief Nursing Officer and designated COVID-19 lead, I have been responsible to ensure that safety for our staff and clients remain our top priority. As such, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you how Bayshore has kept you, your families and our staff safe by proactively implementing and adhering to evidence based infection and prevention control standards whether providing care to you in your home, in our infusion clinics or in your community.
Even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Bayshore’s team of clinical, quality, occupational health and safety experts, implemented enhanced safety measures to our protocols, clinical management, facility operations, and new virtual care services, to enable us to operate in an environment that protects the safety of our team and our patients/clients so we can continue to deliver exceptional care.
The basic elements of an infection prevention and control program (IPAC) are designed to prevent the spread of infection in all of Bayshore’s healthcare settings. When these elements are present and practiced consistently, the risk of infection among clients and staff is reduced. To prepare the organization for the possibility of a pandemic, we started with enhanced safety education regarding the importance of increased household/facility cleaning, stringent hand hygiene, client and self-screening before every visit as well as increased engagement to ensure knowledge translation and understanding of the enhanced IPAC practices required for effective management of the pending coronavirus (COVID-19).
In February 2020, we implemented droplet and contact precautions for COVID-19 high risk clients who were asymptomatic, suspect or confirmed. This included the implementation of a COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Clinical Practice Guideline aimed to keep our staff and clients safe by having our health care providers wear masks, gloves, isolation gowns and eye protection and we also asked our clients to wear a mask (if tolerated). When public policy was implemented for all citizens to self-isolate we enhanced our COVID-19 Clinical Practice Guidelines to include health care providers to wear full PPE when entering the home of a patient/client who has a household member on self-isolation. When the assessment of risk to our health care providers increased due to COVID-19 community spread, we increased our safety measures to include all health care providers to wear masks and gloves regardless if clients or household members screened positive for high risk/suspect/probable COVID-19.
As time went on, we were starting to see the additional stress and concerns from both our staff and our clients/patients. In response, we developed and implemented a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Safety Mentorship program. PPE are the most ‘critical tools’ for professional and paraprofessional healthcare providers in keeping themselves and their clients safe during a pandemic and appropriate use of PPE is vital. Therefore, developing an enhanced PPE safety program to remove human variability from this activity was added to our top safety priority. The Goal is ZERO preventable harm for all staff and clients by providing in-the-moment support and coaching for safe practices in screening, hand hygiene and putting on and taking off PPE.
Bayshore’s existing Clinical Manager/Clinical Leader staff are leaders in patient safety and are now serving as PPE Safety Mentors where they coach and educate their team members on enhanced IPAC Practices and enhanced PPE safety practices for clients and staff. Knowing, practicing, sharing and supporting best practices, will advance making PPE as part of our everyday ‘routine practices’.
These enhanced safety measures have made a significant difference in containing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. In fact, home care has the lowest rate of COVID-19 transmission and related deaths compared to those in Hospitals, Long Term Care facilities and Retirement Homes. Our health care system has been built around institutionalized care and now more than ever we need it to be built around home and community care as home is the safest place to receive care and services.
As we all continue to fight this pandemic until a vaccine is available, the Bayshore team will continue to adhere to these enhanced IPAC safety measures and we will adjust our practices based on any new evidence. In addition, we thank you for doing your part and would like to provide you with a mask to wear when physical distancing isn’t possible while receiving care.
At Bayshore, we are taking every precaution necessary to care for our clients and their families, while meeting both the physical and psychological safety of our staff and clients. By working together and through the extraordinary efforts of our team, the support of all levels of government, and our healthcare partners, we will be able to achieve what is necessary to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and eventually defeat it!
It is an honour to serve you and your family during this unprecedented pandemic.
Ms. Maureen Charlebois CHE, MHSc, BScN, RN
Chief Nursing and Clinical Officer, Clinical Practice, Quality, IPAC, Safety & COVID-19 Lead