Long term care home staffing changes in the Interior Health region in the wake of COVID-19 - InfoNews

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Long term care home staffing changes in the Interior Health region in the wake of COVID-19

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
April 09, 2020 - 4:21 PM

With 30 of the 50 deaths recorded in B.C. due to COVID-19 being in long term care homes, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has expanded staffing restrictions throughout the province.

Those deaths all happened in the Lower Mainland where many staff worked in more than one facility and, therefore, were easily able to transmit the disease to other sites — 21 of which had at least one confirmed case.

Efforts started a couple of weeks ago to adjust schedules and pay rates to end that practice.

Today, April 9, at her daily COVID-19 update, Henry added new orders.

The province will “implement a process to make it possible for health care workers of all kinds to work at a single site only and to be able to do that in a way that is effective and able to give support to staff who are continuing to respond courageously to the monumental challenges that we are facing,” Henry said.

Earlier this week, Interior Health President and CEO Susan Brown told iNFOnews.ca, that the same practice is widespread in this region and her staff was doing preliminary work on how to make the required changes in anticipation of a provincewide order coming down.

There are about 20,000 staff working in long term care homes in B.C. with 50 to 60 collective agreements covering those who work in unionized homes.

Some workers not only work in long term care homes but also work in hospitals and as paramedics so a lot of negotiations are needed.

In an effort to respect workers’ preference as to which facility they work in, wages will be standardized throughout the system at an estimated cost of $10 million a month, Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

The orders put in place today start the process of making sure no staff member works in more than one long term care facility. No target date was mentioned for that process to be completed.

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