Province taking further steps to protect healthcare workers, conserve PPE

By | April 21, 2020

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government announced more measures to help protect healthcare workers and conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shared Health’s Lanette Siragusa said in a news conference on Tuesday the province is taking the necessary steps to ensure appropriate protection is available throughout the entirety of the outbreak for those who work in high-risk situations.

“Appropriate use now will conserve supplies that we need later,” she said.

Siragusa noted staff health, public health and experts in infection prevention and control have worked together to identify the supplies the province needs to have available to protect workers in critical and priority services.

“We will be sharing these new guidelines with regions, facilities, and staff later today and this approach includes consideration of the highest risk and highest need to ensure staff are provided with the appropriate levels of protection for the setting in which they work and the situations in which they may be exposed to,” she said.

Siragusa noted healthcare facilities will also now categorize settings and situations based on risk: The red zone is where confirmed COVID-19 patients will be, the orange zone is suspected COVID-19 patients and the green zone is non-suspects for COVID-19.

“Our experts have identified the level of PPE required for each of these zones based on the level of risk to the staff and the level of risk to the population we are caring for,” she said, noting they have also considered areas where screening may not be possible

Siragusa went on to emphasize the importance of hand hygiene to conserve gloves, as well as the disinfection and reuse of eye protection. She also encouraged the use of cloth gowns.

“To further conserve PPE for healthcare workers we are recommending all people who enter a healthcare facility to wear a cloth mask.”

“We are encouraging patients and clients to wear non-medical face masks during any healthcare interaction, as well as using public transit, Handi Transit or a taxi.”

She said they are also looking to limit the number of staff working in personal care homes in order to “reduce the risk of exposure for our senior citizens.”

COLLECTING PPE

Siragusa also thanked two microbiologists at the University of Manitoba who have been spearheading efforts to collect and donate PPE for healthcare workers.

She said research labs shut down last month, so the pair went to research scientists to get them to donate PPE.

“Their response was tremendous,” she said, noting there were dozens upon dozens of boxes with gloves and masks, as well as respirators, safety glasses, face shields, protective gowns, and disinfectants.

Siragusa said even after dropping off these supplies, the two microbiologists continued to urge colleagues and organizations to step up and help out.

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