JANUARY 06TH UPDATE
Northern Health launches HealtheLife patient portal: View your COVID-19 test results (and more) online
HealtheLife is a secure mobile-friendly web portal that you can access from your computer or smartphone, similar to online banking.
Northern BC residents who received care at an NH hospital can view their hospital-based health information, including:
- Upcoming appointments
- Lab results, including most COVID-19 tests
- X-ray, ultrasound and other imaging reports
- And more!
For more information about HealtheLife and how to sign up, visit the HealtheLife webpage.
JANUARY 04TH UPDATE
Provincial Strategy for COVID-19 Vaccinations
· Maximize administration of doses received in BC to our highest priority populations as quickly as possible.
· Second dose at or around day 35 (again, to maximize delivery of first dose).
· Health authorities will schedule second dose and deliver vaccination efforts according to plan below.
· Orders, allocations, and regional/site deliveries of vaccine will need to align with the plan below.
· Categories below will need to be collected in E-Form and tracked through reporting in order to measure progress toward prioritization of doses.
· Scheduling of priority groups may need to be modified throughout January to March 2021 as transmission is monitored and allocations/deliveries solidify.
December 2020 to the end of January 2021:
· All Pfizer and Moderna vaccine received in BC will be administered to priority populations as their first dose until the end of January 2021.
· The second dose for these individuals will be administered approximately 35 days later to maximize the number of priority population to receive their first dose.
· If anticipated deliveries hold true, this means approximately 150,000 of BC’s priority groups for vaccination will be immunized with a first dose heading into February 2021, as follows:
1. Residents and staff of long-term care facilities (approximately 70,000);
2. Residents and staff of assisted living residences (approximately 13,000);
3. Individuals in hospital or community assessed and awaiting a long-term care placement (approximately 2,000);
4. Essential visitors to residents of long-term care facilities and assisted living residences (approximately 8,000);
5. Health care workers providing hospital front line care where COVID-19 patients are treated in ICUs, medical/surgical units, emergency departments, and paramedics (approximately 30,000);
6. Remote First Nation Communities (approximately 25,000) and health care workers who provide outreach for those communities.
February to the end of March 2021:
· Approximately 400,000 first doses available.
· Continuation of second doses within approximately 35 days of first dose.
· First doses will be administered to as many of the following priority individuals as possible.
1. Any residual population from the priorities identified for December – January months;
2. Community-based seniors 80+ and 65+ Indigenous seniors and elders (approximately 260,000);
3. Residents/clients in select congregate settings: people experiencing homelessness and/or using shelters; provincial correctional facilities; group homes (adults); mental health residential care (adults) (approximately 40,000);
4. Long term home support recipients and staff who provide care to these individuals including community based professional service providers and home support workers (approximately 60,000);
5. Hospital staff, community GPs and medical specialists and their office staff (approximately 20,000);
6. First Nations communities (approximately 25,000).
April 2021 and beyond:
· BC should be in a position to have completed vaccination of a majority of its health care workers and highest priority populations and to begin vaccinating people as follows:
o Balance of priority populations;
o Balance of health care workers;
o General population working backward by age/cohort (starting with people aged 75 – 79 years of age). As each age cohort is complete (or near complete), BC would continue vaccinating the general population in 5-year cohorts moving backwards from 70 – 75, 65 -69, and so on. This approach aligns with BC’s risk of hospitalization and death based on our experience of the pandemic to date.
Remote First Nations communities receive Moderna vaccine through FNHA: Collaborative process under way for others
A small group of remote Northern BC First Nations communities are receiving their Moderna vaccine shipments today from the FNHA. Immunizations in those communities will be carried out tomorrow. A stratification process is under way for additional First Nations communities to receive the next round of Moderna; the FNHA and NH are working collaboratively on this.
DECEMBER 22ND UPDATE
Northern Health administers first COVID-19 vaccines in Prince George
The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to a group of high-risk health care workers in Prince George today.
The first person to receive the vaccine in the Northern Health region was Biserka Becker, a care aide at Jubilee Lodge in Prince George. Biserka was vaccinated along with a group of health care workers from University Hospital of Northern BC, and the nearby Jubilee Lodge long-term care facility.
Dr. Marietije Slabbert, the physician lead for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at UHNBC, was also among group to receive the vaccine. Dr. Slabbert is considered a high-risk health care worker because of her work with COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
“This has been a really long journey for people working in health care, and the community at large, and it’s wonderful that this vaccine has finally arrived in the North; it’s like the best Christmas present ever,” said Dr. Slabbert. “The teams of physicians, nurses, care aides, cleaners — everybody has been working so hard, and we’ll continue working hard to get this vaccine to every person in the North who wants to be vaccinated.”
Northern Health is distributing the vaccine in accordance with the priority vaccine groups as recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, beginning with:
- High-risk health care workers
- Long-term care and assisted living residents
As more vaccines are approved by Health Canada, more communities and more groups of people will receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We expect to be able to immunize all Northern BC residents who wish to have the vaccine by the end of 2021.
All COVID-19 vaccines will be free to everyone in British Columbia.
For more details and a photo from today’s vaccinations at UHNBC, see this item on the NH story site: Northern Health administers first COVID-19 vaccines in Prince George.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine research, priority populations, and the provincial rollout plan, visit the Government of British Columbia’s COVID-19 Vaccines website.
Outbreak continues in Jubilee Lodge, Prince George: Update
Ongoing monitoring and testing of staff and residents at Jubilee Lodge in Prince George has identified additional lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. Since the outbreak was declared on December 12, 38 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, along with seven staff.
Tragically, four Jubilee residents have died since the outbreak began.
“The toll that COVID-19 has had on many of our most cherished, but most vulnerable, members of our communities has been heavy,” said Cathy Ulrich, Northern Health CEO. “Our heartfelt condolences go to residents of Jubilee Lodge and their families as well as to their caregivers; the staff, nurses and physicians who continue to provide excellent and compassionate care during understandably challenging circumstances.”
BCCDC testing guidelines have been updated and now include priority symptoms
The BCCDC has updated testing guidelines to reflect priority symptoms. People experiencing the following symptoms should seek a COVID-19 test right away:
- Fever or chills
- Cough (Either new onset or worsening/exacerbation of chronic cough)
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Difficulty breathing
People experiencing two or more of the following symptoms (not related to any other pre-existing conditions) for more than 24 hours should also seek a COVID-19 test:
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme fatigue or tiredness
- Body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
For those who have had close contact with a COVID-19 case, and have even a single symptom included above, testing is recommended.
To arrange for a test, contact your physician or nurse practitioner’s office, or call the NH COVID-19 Online Clinic & Info Line at 1-844-645-7811. More info is on the BCCD’s COVID-19 testing page.
DECEMBER 14TH UPDATE
Click here to visit the Northern Health memo on the Jubilee Lodge Covid Outbreak.
Click here to see the full Provincial Health Covid vaccine protocols.
DECEMBER 08TH UPDATE
Where to find information on outbreaks in Northern Health
Information is changing rapidly as the second wave of the pandemic evolves, and finding trusted sources for emergent information can be difficult.
Information on all outbreaks within Northern Health can be found on the news releases page on Northern Health. This page is regularly updated as media releases are sent out, and is a trusted source for current information that you can share with family, friends, and others.
NOVEMBER 26TH UPDATE
BC COVID-19 SELF ASSESSMENT TOOL
NOVEMBER 19TH UPDATE
Northern Health urges COVID-19 precautions
November 17, 2020Northern HealthInformation Bulletin
Northern Health is urging caution as we see COVID-19 activity surging across the province. NH is concerned with the upward trend and frequency of new cases and clusters in the region.
Recent orders in the Fraser Valley issued by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to address cases in the Lower Mainland are not currently directed at Northern Health; however, we need your support to avoid more stringent measures. We are encouraging against non-essential travel and are asking people to ensure they are following all of the current orders, guidance, and advice.
COVID-19 cases are not unexpected, but our behaviours can play a role in preventing transmission and spread by following these guidelines:
- Maintaining our social connections are important for our well-being. However, please keep your bubble small and limited to your household and a handful (up to six) close friends or family (your “safe six”).
- When planning your holiday gathering, please avoid travel and choose to celebrate with individuals in your bubble.
- Physical distancing measures are especially challenging for young people. It is important they also keep their bubble small and, as much as possible, limit their interactions to a close group of friends from within their school cohort.
- Essential workers, such as health-care workers and teachers, play a critical role in our communities and therefore it is imperative they also keep their bubble small.
- Remember: The provincial health officer’s orders to household gatherings applies province-wide. This means no more than six people from outside your household bubble should gather in your home.
If you are experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms, we continue to ask that you self-isolate, and contact your primary care provider or the NH COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line at 1-844-645-7811. Visit the BCCDC website for more info about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself, your family and your community.
OCTOBER 28TH UPDATE
To combat rising cases of COVID-19 in BC, a new provincial health order limiting private gatherings is now in effect
COVID-19 cases are rising across the province, with many of the new cases linked to social gatherings in private homes. To help combat this spike, a new provincial health order has gone into effect as of Oct 26, limiting private gatherings across the province.
Gatherings in private homes are now limited to your immediate household, plus six others. This is a province-wide order that applies to all homes for all occasions.
For more information on the new public health order, see the full page on the provincial site.
SEPTEMBER 29TH UPDATE
Confirmed NH cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the September 28 provincial update:
· 303 cases
o 45 active
o 8 new
· 2 deaths (0 new)
The Northern Health Authority is updating their website regularly to keep the public informed about what is being done in our area to fight the virus. Their website will be monitored daily and new bulletins will be posted here. Here is some information from the Northern Health website.
What is Northern Health Doing?
• The BCCDC and Ministry of Health are monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19, and working with provincial and federal partners of public health management, surveillance, diagnostic testing, and infection control measures with health authorities.
• All NH sites are involved in the ongoing planning and preparation for COVID-19 response. o As there’s a need for our patients, staff, or visitors to change behaviours, or changes to how local health care is accessed, we are committed to keeping the community informed.
• In addition, Northern Health is taking proactive measures to maintain our stock of health care supplies and to prevent any supply disruptions. This includes filling normal inventories at sites based on historical requirements.
• COVID-19 testing locations are operational in all communities across the Northern Health region. Please note that people are being asked NOT to go to testing locations without an appointment. Testing is available for all who need it but not everyone requires a test.
• This is an evolving situation here and in BC, and the country. We will be continuing to provide updates as we have them.
• Northern Health has an emergency operation centre (EOC) in place to oversee the response to COVID-19. The EOC will ensure we are prepared for potential risks and issues, and that our contingency and business continuity plans are in place and ready to respond in community, acute and long term care settings. We are taking this very seriously.
In an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, Northern Health is temporarily suspending pay parking for the public, staff and medical staff, at the University Hospital of Northern BC effective April 1st, and until further notice. Pay parking machines require people to touch screens and buttons that may have been touched by someone previously. Discontinuing the use of pay parking machines reduces the risk of potential spread of infection and also supports physical distancing measures that have been mandated by the Provincial Health Officer. Northern Health is working with Impark, which is the parking services provider at the health authority’s only public pay-parking site in the region, to implement this change immediately. Northern Health reminds everyone about the importance of physical distancing, which means limiting close contact from others by staying 2 metres away from others outside our homes, frequent handwashing, using virtual options to connect with others, limiting shopping to only essential outings, avoiding large gatherings, and staying home if you are sick.
Northern Health is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and BC Centre for Disease Control to respond to COVID-19. The situation is evolving quickly and our strategies are evolving to keep people in the communities we serve safe. To support the Provincial Health Officer’s directions around social distancing and protect our residents, patients and staff from the transmission of COVID-19, Northern Health has made the difficult decision to allow only essential visits to our facilities. Essential visits will be considered for patients who are: • critically ill • receiving end-of-life care • frail and need an escort or family member for their safety Eligible essential visitors must pass important screening criteria. This means they cannot have a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath, and they cannot have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days. We understand the importance of visits from family and loved ones to our patients and long-term care residents and we appreciate your understanding and support in helping to keep everyone safe. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control is the recommended resource for provincial information that is accurate and current. Information is being updated frequently on the site at this time and individuals are encouraged to check back regularly (eg. daily).
NH INFO LINE
Northern Health has launched a COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line to help answer questions and concerns from Northern BC residents. The NH COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line can be reached at 1-844-645-7811. We are launching this service to ensure Northern Health residents have access to information, health advice, and an online clinic to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, while reducing demand on emergency rooms and other health services. This service is staffed by nurses, physicians, and nurse practitioners, offering virtual screening and assessment for individuals who feel they may have COVID-19 or feel they have been exposed. By calling the Online Clinic, Northern BC residents can receive information, may undergo virtual screening, be assessed by a nurse, and may see a physician or nurse practitioner if it is required. Other options for health information and advice continue to be available, including calling your primary care provider, or contacting HealthLink BC (8-1-1) at any time.
Should I be wearing a mask to protect myself? ________________________________________
• Masks should be used by sick people to help prevent transmission to other people. o A mask will help keep a person’s droplets contained.
• Federal and provincial public health officials have recently announced that use of non-medical face coverings MAY provide some additional protection against spreading illness in settings where other prevention measures are more challenging to practice, such as physical distancing. o Use of non-medical face coverings by the general public is NOT an alternative to practicing other recommended and directed prevention measures.
• Finally, use of non-medical face coverings or masks is not a recommended or required practice, it is an option. o Masks may give a person a false sense of security, and could increase the number of times people touch their own faces (e.g., to adjust the mask).
Home Health monitoring update ________________________________________
• Northern Health will use the Telus Home Health Monitoring (HHM) System, effective April 6, 2020, to monitor positive COVID-19 cases, close contacts of positive cases, and persons under investigation as per BCCDC guidance or under Medical Health Officer discretion.
• This allows patients to self-monitor symptoms, while nurses monitor all patients registered in HHM to provide further clinical guidance.
• Public Health Outbreak Management will contact patients living in the community (including assisted living facilities) for enrolment in the Telus HHM System.
• All health authorities are using the HHM System for COVID-19 active daily monitoring.
Community-Level data on COVID-19
This information can be shared on a need-to-know basis. Information that can be shared publicly includes: • Case counts at the health authority level • Notification of outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as acute care and long-term care facilities. For COVID-19, a single case in a long-term-care facility is considered an outbreak. There are currently no facility outbreaks in Northern Health. • Notification of high-risk public exposures involving contacts that are not otherwise identifiable (such as the Pacific Dental Conference)
BCCDC testing guidelines have changed: COVID-19 testing now available to all who need it.
As the Province moves to the next phase of its COVID-19 testing strategy, access to COVID-19 testing is expanding. Until now, we needed to focus our testing resources on those who were most at risk: health-care workers, essential services providers, and people who were vulnerable to complications due to COVID-19. We now have capacity in the health care system to broaden testing to help make sure we are not missing cases, outbreaks and clusters in communities. This means that any British Columbian who has symptoms of a cold, of influenza, or of COVID-19 can now be assessed for and get a COVID-19 test from a physician, nurse practitioner, or local community collection centre (testing centre). For information on NH tests and collection centres (testing centres), call the NH COVID-19 Online Clinic & Information Line at 1-844-645-7811, #143 Parkwood Mall, 1600 15th Ave, Prince George. While testing is now broadly available, not everyone needs a test. If you have no symptoms, the test has limited benefit. If someone has no symptoms, even if they’re a contact of a confirmed case or a returning traveller, they do not require a test.
Defending against COVID-19 cyber scams.
Northern Health’s Information Security team is warning you to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Cyber criminals are sending emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.
Concerns about those not following public health advice or orders
• Individuals are asking who they can call to report when they observe people not following public health advice or orders. Concerns regarding compliance with the Provincial Health Officer’s orders should be directed to 1-888-COVID-19 (1-888-268-4319) or a local bylaw office. Local bylaw officers in most communities have been asked to help ensure compliance with the Provincial Health Officer’s orders around physical distancing. Northern Health’s Environmental Health Officers can also be contacted for concerns around non-compliance at 1-250-565-7322.
• These officers will provide public health agencies with recommendations and advice on whether further action is necessary; any enforcement by police will be at the direction of the Provincial Health Officer or local medical health officer. To ensure officers are available to deal with serious issues, the Province is asking that people contact bylaw officers only for blatant and egregious offences that are putting everyone’s safety at risk.
Now more than ever, it’s important to be kind to one another. Some groups of people may be experiencing stigma because of COVID-19, including people diagnosed with COVID-19 and health care workers. Stigma is a negative stereotype or negative association about people with an illness. It hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards other people, and negatively affecting the mental health of stigmatized groups and the communities they live in. How do we stop stigma? Know the facts, share only accurate information with others, and most of all, be kind. We all have a role to play. Stop stigma, and please be kind.