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Health-Care Workers Will Receive Enhanced Access to Personal Protective Equipment

Stabilized Stockpile, Ongoing Supply of PPE to Bolster Ongoing Commitment to Health and Safety of Staff: Siragusa

Health-care workers throughout Manitoba will continue to be assured of access to personal protective equipment (PPE), thanks to a stabilizing stockpile that now allows more N95 respirators to be available for staff providing direct care to patients who have tested positive or are suspected of having COVID-19, chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa announced today.

“Ensuring the health and safety of front-line health care workers has been – and continues to be – a fundamental priority in Manitoba’s response to COVID-19,” said Siragusa. “Preventing health-care workers from exposure to and transmission of the virus has been a driving force behind our decisions since well before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in our province.”

Throughout Manitoba’s pandemic response, health-care workers have relied upon basic infection prevention and control measures, known science and national and international guidance to prevent the spread of the virus between patients and staff. These routine practices – including point of care risk assessment, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting of all environments and equipment – are required in the care of all patients at all times and in every health care setting, said Siragusa.

These efforts, combined with appropriate precautions and use of PPE, have proven effective to date in protecting health-care workers from acquiring COVID-19 while also ensuring ongoing access to PPE – particularly when Manitoba’s supply was impacted by worldwide shortages this past spring. Overall, 26 health-care workers in Manitoba have tested positive for COVID-19. There has not been a confirmed case involving a health-care worker since May 10 and there have been no confirmed cases involving health-care workers where appropriate precautions were followed. Since tracking began on April 10, 6,511 health-care workers have been tested for COVID-19.

Shared Health and the Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU) have reached an agreement on increased PPE availability for nurses, Siragusa added. Shared Health will be extending the terms of that agreement to all health-care workers to ensure consistency in practices among nurses and other health care workers providing direct patient care.

“Manitoba’s stockpile and ongoing supply of PPE has improved steadily in most categories over the last number of weeks,” said Siragusa. “We are confident that health-care workers will be mindful of the current evidence that shows how the virus is transmitted, that there is very low COVID-19 activity in Manitoba, and the ongoing need to conserve supplies when they are determining the equipment they require to provide direct patient care to COVID-19 positive and suspect patients.”

A Joint PPE Committee comprised of experts in infection prevention and control, occupational and environmental safety and health and Shared Health Clinical Leadership, as well as representatives of MNU, will monitor the impact of these changes on the province’s supply stockpile.

The supply of PPE is expected to remain a challenge for the duration of the pandemic. In the event of a shortage of PPE in one or more categories, Shared Health is committed to working with the committee, health care unions and and all health service delivery organizations to develop contingency plans to ensure the safety of health-care workers in Manitoba.

The joint statement issued by Shared Health and the MNU is available here.

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