COVID 19 - Novel Coronavirus
As the BC COVID-19 curve flattens our community begins to move to the “new normal”. The key to moving forward is to ensure that we take every precaution necessary for the safety of our patients and our drivers.
After consultation with several infectious disease health professionals, the VCDS IPAC Policy was written. It has been developed with an abundance of caution, following Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s guidance, while balancing necessity with practicable and reasonable action.
Our future service will look and feel different but will remain consistent with our sole objective - getting cancer patients in need to their appointments, safely, on time, with compassion and understanding.
INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL POLICY (IPAC):
Approved: May 22nd, 2020
Revised: July 18, 2021
The VCDS Infection Prevention and Control Policy (IPAC) concerning COVID 19 - Novel Coronavirus and other communicable infections generally such as H1N1, MRSA and Shingles is intended to be followed at all times by VCDS members when transporting patients to care.
The policy follows the BC Centre for Disease Control directives applicable to the work of VCDS and is intended to protect the safety of patients and VCDS members.
This update as of July 18th is based on the BC Restart Plan as Public Health Officers ensure a careful re-opening of the public sector in relation to vaccine rates, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. That Restart Plan includes Public Health Officer (PHO) guidance for personal, public and outdoor gatherings and information for businesses and workplaces.
The VCDS IPAC Policy is intended to ensure all Drivers are compliant with the safety needs required in the transportation of cancer patients.
The Policy is subject to review and revision when necessary to reflect changes in the infection prevention and control environment to ensure our VCDS services meet the goal of minimizing the risk of infection to patients and drivers.
VCDS Dispatchers will:
- Screen the patient at initial registration and inform them that the Driver will ask a health screening questionnaire prior to ride and ensure the patient understands the need for ongoing safety.
- Ensure the patient understands that should they experience symptoms they are to advise the driver immediately.
- If a Patient is in Assisted Living or a Care Facility and the site is on a communicable outbreak, such as Covid-19, all actions in and out of the facility are governed by the Medical Health Officer (MHO). An outbreak can only be declared over once there are two incubation periods (28 days) with no new symptomatic cases.
- Dispatchers will need to ask when the outbreak started. We must refuse driving until the outbreak is declared over even if the patient is symptom free.
- Inform the patient that they are to continue to wear a mask during transport. The patient should provide their own mask, however the Driver will provide one if necessary.
- Inform the patient that if they require assistance only one person may accompany them during transportation and that person is also asked to wear a mask for the duration of the trip. An accompanying person must be pre-qualified by the health facility as an essential person. If not, they will not be admitted to the facility and cannot wait with the VCDS driver.
- Ensure when arranging carpool transportation that all patients verbally advise they are fully vaccinated as well as the driver—the attestation is not recorded.
VCDS Drivers will:
- On contact with the patient to schedule the ride advise the patient that they will contact the patient again 24-hours in advance of the ride to conduct the VCDS Health Questionnaire (attached).
- Concurrently the driver will self-assess their own health consistent with the VCDS Health Screen Questionnaire and only advise the Dispatcher if they have any symptoms and will not drive.
- The VCDS will provide drivers with a ‘travel kit’ that includes a supply of non-medical disposable masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and disinfectant wipes. Drivers will ensure the ‘travel kit’ is subsequently maintained with reimbursement through the monthly driver expense report.
- Remind the patient that they must arrive for transportation wearing a mask and should an essential person be accompanying them, they will also be required to wear a mask. Patients and passengers are to be given a non-medical disposable mask for transportation to the facility if necessary.
- The driver will wear a mask at all times when a patient is in the car.
- The patient(s) (and essential person) should be seated in the rear seat(s) to maximize social distancing.
- In the event that the patient has difficulty accessing the rear seat and only if the patient has been fully vaccinated will the driver permit the patient to take the front seat.
- In the event that the Dispatcher requests carpooling, ensure all patients verbally confirm they are fully vaccinated and everyone in the vehicle is wearing a mask
- The driver must maintain rigorous hygiene and appropriate precautions by:
- Washing hands as well as providing the hand sanitizer to the patient(s) before and after each contact.
- Ensure vehicle sanitation is maintained by wiping down vehicle hard surfaces and seats with disinfectant solutions/wipes (spray aerosols are not recommended as they may distribute particles) prior to and following each patient transport.
- Two windows should be open at all times (approximately 2 inches) opposite one another to increase air flow. For example, open the front passenger window and the backseat window behind the driver. If the weather is unsuitable to open windows ensure only outside air is circulating in the vehicle.
Patient falls ill in the vehicle:
- In the rare event that the patient is ill in the vehicle the following recommendations are suggested:
- Wear gloves, a mask and eye protection and clean up as soon as possible with soapy water (e.g. dish detergent). Rinse and dry with paper towels.
- Wash hands when gloves are removed.
- Use disposable supplies, like paper towels, to wipe up.
- If fluid splashes into one’s eyes rinse gently with water for 15 minutes.
- The VCDS will pay for professional cleaning of the vehicle interior if the patient is ill. The driver may claim the expense on their monthly driver expense claim.
- It is highly recommended that Drivers:
- Are fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine *fully vaccinated = 14 days post second dose.
- Get an annual flu vaccine (Flu season is typically October-April).
- Consider getting the pneumonia vaccine (if eligible)
- Consider getting the shingles vaccine (if eligible).
VCDS HEALTH SCREENING QUESTIONNAIRE:
- DRIVER QUESTIONS FOR COVID-19
In the last 14 days, to your knowledge, have you: Been in close* contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or traveled outside of Canada, including the United States?
If yes, proceed to question #2. If no, proceed to question #4.
- Have you been vaccinated with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?
If yes, proceed to question #4. If no, proceed to question #3.
- Were you required to quarantine and/or self-isolate by Public Health?
If yes – advise to not transport and encourage patient to contact 811 and complete self isolation.
If no – proceed to question #4
- Have you lived or worked in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak
If yes, advise to contact 811 or your doctor and pause on transport
If no – proceed to question #5
- In the past 3 DAYS have you noticed any symptoms**of a cold, flu, or other contagious illness?
If yes, advise to contact 811 or your doctor and pause on transport
If no – proceed with transport
*Close contact is defined as someone who you have interacted with in an enclosed environment for more than 15 minutes while not wearing appropriate PPE or practicing physical distancing e.g. contact within own household / socializing with family and friends.
**Symptoms may include fever, sweats or chills, diarrhea, cough/worsening chronic cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, taste or smell; runny nose, headache or sore throat.
THE DRIVER WILL:
- 24-hours prior to the ride, review the questions of the VCDS Health Questionnaire with the patient to ensure they are not symptomatic
- Remind the patient that they must wear a mask
- Advise the Dispatcher if the patient has indicated they are experiencing symptoms or the driver is experiencing symptoms and the ride is not able to proc.
THE DISPATCHER WILL:
- The dispatcher will cancel the ride/rides on RideScheduler and contact the patient to let them know that all booked rides will be cancelled. The dispatcher will suggest the patient call their doctor or 8-1-1, take a Covid-19 test and let us know the results as soon as possible. If negative, we will resume service.
- The dispatcher will contact any driver who may have driven the patient in the past two weeks. The driver who may have been potentially exposed to a symptomatic patient will be advised to self- monitor for symptoms for a two-week period from onset of symptoms if the driver is fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. IF the driver is not vaccinated, they will need to self-isolate.
- Unless the patient turns out to be positive for COVID-19, VCDS will not recommend the driver to take a COVID-19 test (unless they are also symptomatic). All positive results will undergo contact tracing by Public Health and the driver will be notified to undergo testing if the patient is positive.