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HomeBusinessCOVID Exclusive: Island Health recruits hospital workers for long-term care facilities, despite single-site order

COVID Exclusive: Island Health recruits hospital workers for long-term care facilities, despite single-site order


Bob Mackin

A key policy change aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus is being watered-down on Vancouver Island.

An April order from Dr. Bonnie Henry limited long-term care workers to one facility, after outbreaks at two dozen facilities around Southwestern B.C. represented half the province’s cases at the time. The single-site order was estimated to cost taxpayers an extra $10 million a month, but it appears to be single-site in name only.

Sharon Torgerson (VIHA)

Dr. Richard Stanwick (VIHA)

A Sept. 22 Vancouver Island Health Authority memo from chief medical officer Richard Stanwick and human resources vice-president Sharon Torgerson aims to recruit hospital workers for shifts at long term care and assisted living facilities.

“The single site order put in place to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 is severely challenging staffing levels in our long-term care and assisted living sector at Island Health owned and operated facilities, affiliate and private sites across the region,” said the memo, to part-time workers with no restricted single-site affiliation.

“We are asking if you would pick up work in a long-term care or assisted living facility.

“There are many opportunities across the sector, and every shift that you can help with will make a tremendous difference to the residents who need care during our COVID-19 pandemic response.”

How many workers are moving from site to site, even with a single-site order? Neither VIHA nor the Ministry of Health responded Oct. 14 to On Oct. 16, the Ministry of Health responded with a prepared statement about the policy only. 

“The [Provincial Health Officer’s] order allows staff working in acute care, home and community care and other work areas to be assigned to a facility covered under the single site order; people can work at a dentist’s office and a long-term care facility – but they cannot work at multiple long term care facilities,” said the statement.

The Ministry later clarified for that a hospital worker can also take shifts at one long-term care centre, but that hospital worker cannot take shifts at more than one long-term care centre.

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