CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) INFORMATION FOR VHA CLIENTS AND FAMILIES

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) INFORMATION FOR VHA CLIENTS AND FAMILIES

Updated June 9, 2020

VHA’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19: KEEPING CLIENTS, FAMILIES AND STAFF SAFE

TELEPHONE TOWN HALL 

Thank you to those who were able to join our Telephone Town Hall on Wednesday, May 20th.

Please find the full recording of the call below:

For your reference, here are:

  • Opening comments from the town hall from VHA’s President & CEO Carol Annett and comments on VHA’s practices related to infection prevention during COVID-19 from VHA’s Chief Nursing Executive Kathryn Nichol who oversees all areas of quality, infection prevention and protective equipment.
  • Questions received and Answers provided during the call

If you have other questions or would like to receive regular updates from VHA, please email us at communications@vha.ca.

VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) is closely monitoring the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation and is carefully following the guidance of Public Health Ontario to ensure all of our clients, families, staff and service providers are protected while we continue to provide necessary care.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE COVID-19?

If you are concerned that you have COVID-19 or that you may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, please call Telehealth (1-866-797-0000), your local public health unit or your health care provider and inform them of your concerns.

If you are a client currently receiving care, please call VHA’s main line at 416-489-2500 and explain your situation – one of our call response agents will be happy to assist you.

INFECTION CONTROL MEASURES AT VHA HOME HEALTHCARE

VHA’s priority is keeping our clients, families, staff and service providers protected. VHA’s Infection Prevention and Control team is in close contact with Public Health Ontario and other agencies and we continue to follow all recommended infection control measures for home health care. These practices include screening clients for new symptoms, and following recommended protocols on hand hygiene, the proper use of personal protective equipment and the disinfection of equipment.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM MY VHA CARE PROVIDER?

We have encouraged our staff and service providers to telephone clients prior to visits to screen for symptoms of COVID-19 to keep everyone safe. These symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and secondary symptoms such as unexplained fatigue, headache, difficulty swallowing, unexplained runny nose, unexplained nasal congestion, sore throat, diarrhea, chills, conjunctivitis (or pink eye), decreased smell or taste, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain or sudden non-itchy rashes (in children). Screening may also take place in person at the beginning of a visit. This screening ensures that any individuals at risk of having or spreading COVID-19 are identified immediately.

Clinical evidence indicates that COVID-19 is contact/droplet spread, which means it is spread through direct and indirect contact and through respiratory droplets from actions such as sneezing and coughing. While physical distancing assists in controlling spread, we recognize keeping 6 feet or 2 metres apart is difficult due to the nature of health care work. For this reason, the use of personal protective equipment is important for staff and client protection and to minimize anxiety. We have implemented universal mask and face shield use for staff and service providers when providing close (within 6 feet) care for all clients. Please visit Public Health Ontario for further information on recommendations regarding the use of protective equipment.

The Ontario government has announced that testing for COVID-19 is now available for:
  • All people with at least one symptom, even if it is mild
  • People who are concerned they have been exposed to COVID-19
  • People who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including VHA’s essential health care workers

VHA is supportive of testing as an important public health strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We respect and protect the privacy of all of our workers. It is their choice whether or not to get tested, and it is their choice whether or not to share those results with VHA or with their clients. Here are the actions our staff and service providers are taking to keep themselves and the clients and families they care for protected.

  • Self-screening for symptoms every day. If staff or service providers have any symptoms, they do not work.
  • Performing frequent hand hygiene.
  • Keeping a distance of 2 metres or 6 feet from others when possible.
  • We have universal masking at VHA, which means staff & service providers wear a mask at all times when providing care and can’t physically distance.
  • We have a voluntary universal face shield policy, which means staff and service providers can wear a face shield any time.
  • For the small number of COVID + clients VHA is providing care for, all of our healthcare workers are using full personal protective equipment (PPE) and have received additional training in putting on and taking off PPE as well as safe disposal.

VHA care providers are well-informed about appropriate infection prevention and control measures for home care. We value their expertise as health care professionals and their dedication to providing necessary care in the home, where most want to be. We thank our valued clients and families for their continued respect and support of their VHA caregivers.

VIRTUAL CARE

VHA is pleased to now be able to offer virtual care visits for some of our services. Virtual care is any interaction between a health care provider and a client when they are in different locations. During COVID-19 when we are all trying to practice physical distancing wherever possible, virtual care visits provide an opportunity for VHA to provide some services without needing to be in the client’s home.

By using technology, such as the telephone or video conferencing, a health care provider and a client and/or a family caregiver can virtually connect with one another to improve access to care, continue progressing health care goals and can help clients and their care providers to stay connected.

VHA is currently providing some rehabilitation services via virtual care when it is clinically appropriate including some physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language services, dietetics and social work services. If you would like to learn more about virtual care opportunities for your rehab services, please contact your VHA rehab service provider or 1-888-314-6622.

SUPPORTING LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES

You have likely heard that long-term care homes have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. VHA has been asked to help care for these residents. A number of VHA staff have volunteered to temporarily work in these facilities and we are grateful for all they are doing. These staff will not be providing home care while they are assigned to a long-term care home, and they will be on paid isolation for 14 days following their work in a long-term care home before they return to working in the community. Thank you for your understanding if your home care services are disrupted as a result of this extraordinary situation.

PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND CLOTH MASK DRIVE AND DONATIONS

VHA has received many generous donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cloth Masks during COVID-19. Our thanks to Canadian Tire, Capable Plastic Injection and Mould Ltd., The Fountain of Love and Life, The Lo Family, MDA Corporation, Michael Garron Hospital Foundation, The Sewing Army, We the BOMB Girls and many VHA volunteers.

 

If you wish to support the ongoing efforts of VHA’s dedicated care providers, we welcome donations of Personal Protective Equipment and Cloth Masks. For further information, please visit VHA’s PPE drive page or contact Sandy Cao at scao@vha.ca or 416-489-2500 ext 4602.

 

Financial donations to our Simple Comforts Fund, which is used to purchase products and services for clients who are in need of urgent assistance and have limited or no access to funding, are also appreciated. Online donations can be made here.

UPDATES FROM VHA

If you wish to receive regular updates from VHA about our ongoing efforts during COVID-19, please contact communications@vha.ca and we will send updates to you via email.

Please visit Public Health Ontario for further information regarding COVID-19 and measures we can all take to protect ourselves. We appreciate the cooperation of all of our clients and families to help keep everyone safe.