Message to MRS Learners re: COVID-19 Information and Preparedness
March 2, 2020
Dear learner at UHN,
As you know, we are continuing to watch the developments around COVID-19. We want to ensure that you continue to have the information, resources and supports that you need while at UHN. We are also hearing your questions and are sharing answers to the most common questions below. I am also sharing a message that I have modified from our UHN CEO, Kevin Smith, and Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Susy Hota.
Please follow the hospital policies of your placement around COVID-19 and reach out to your supervisor/preceptor to answer any questions you may have. And, please remember that there are resources available to help learners who need support including supports from your schools, preceptors and Education at UHN. We hope you continue to have a great educational experience with as little disruption to your learning as possible.
Brian Hodges, Executive Vice President Education and Chief Medical Officer, UHN
Q & A re: COVID-19 Preparedness
1. What are the guidelines about my participation in educational and/or patient care activities or procedures at UHN?
Participation in any educational, patient care activity or procedure will be allocated according to your competence and level of training. At this time, University Health Network continues to offer placements/rotations as scheduled, with the following guidelines:
- Pre-licensure [and unregulated health professional] students (e.g. medical students in all years of training, nursing students) and learners who are pregnant will not be involved in providing direct care to patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
- Advanced level learners should, as much as possible, participate in clinical care similar to the role you play during non-emergency situations.
- Graduate research and administrative professional students will be allowed to continue laboratory or hospital-based research and work, as appropriate to the situation, but will not be involved with patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. 2. I am considering travelling outside of the North America. What is UHN advising? Out of an abundance of caution, you may wish to consider making alternate arrangements or postponing non-essential travel to impacted countries if at all possible.
3. I have recently travelled outside of North America. What I need to do prior to coming to UHN?
All staff and learners are asked to report any travel outside of North America in the last 14 days to Occupational Health before coming to UHN. If you have travelled from Hubei province in the last 14 days, you would be required to stay home through 14 days from last contact in Hubei.
- Occupational Health - TGH: 416-340-4800 Ext. 3267
- Occupational Health -TWH: 416-603-5800 Ext. 5121
- Occupational Health -PMH: 416-946-2000 Ext. 2090
- Occupational Health - TR: 416-597-3422 Ext. 3775
4. What self-screening should I be doing now?
Please do not come to UHN if you are ill. Please call Occupational Health if you are experiencing any acute respiratory illness including fever and cough, AND at least one of the following:
- A history of travel to or residence in affected area(s) in the 14 days prior to symptom onset OR
- Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to illness onset OR
- Worked or attended a health care facility in the 14 days prior to onset of symptoms where patients with hospital-associated COVID-19 infections have been reported.
5. Where can I find more information about COVID-19 Preparedness at UHN?
In addition to your preceptor, you can access the UHN COVID-19 Preparedness Intranet site (log in using your t-ID)
Every day we receive information from reliable sources, work with other hospitals and all levels of government in terms of our response, and Infection Prevention and Control is supporting teams across UHN to ensure that we are employing the necessary precautions to protect everyone at UHN, including learners, while providing care and testing for COVID-19 when it is appropriate. To date we have had no confirmed cases at UHN but we have tested people with fever and respiratory symptoms. Given that there are hundreds of respiratory viruses, many of which can be passed from person to person, adherence to our standard approach of using handwashing, personal protective equipment and additional precautions following Infection Prevention and Control policies is critical.
It has always been our practice to screen patients entering our hospitals for fever, respiratory symptoms, diarrhea, rash and travel history. We are now taking a very sensitive approach to matching that travel history with places that have concerning levels of COVID-19 infection, so that we can increase our ability to identify possible infections. We continue to emphasize with all clinical teams the importance of hand hygiene, using airborne + droplet + contact precautions for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients and are working to ensure that we have the supplies we need to for safe care to continue to be delivered.
It is important to underline at this point that these are preparation activities as we have seen only 24 cases of COVID-19 to date in Canada. Our best evidence to date suggests that about
80% of COVID-19 infections are mild in nature and that many of these patients can be sent home with self-isolation. We do recognize that 20% of people, mainly those with other health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, can get more severe illness and may require our care in hospital.
The safety of everyone at UHN including learners, staff and patients is paramount and we’ll continue to be guided by best practice and emerging evidence.