Getting children's immunizations up to date

Island Health’s public health teams are helping families ensure that their children are up-to-date with important childhood immunizations, like measles and tetanus 

“Childhood vaccinations are very important,” said medical health officer Dr. Michael Benusic. “We know that parents and caregivers want to protect their kids. We also know that the COVID-19 pandemic may have made it difficult for some families to stay up to date on immunizations for their kids.”

B.C.’s routine immunization schedule includes a series of vaccinations around age 4, timed to coincide with entry to kindergarten. Island Health’s public health teams are calling thousands of families whose children are about to enter school, or are already in kindergarten, to inform them about clinics and help them make appointments for kindergarten immunizations.

“We encourage families to make an appointment when they get a phone call from Island Health,” said Benusic. “It’s one less thing to do when it’s time to get ready for back to school.”

Malcolmsnon unveils new Nanaimo substance-use beds

Hon. Sheila Malcolmson

220526 – Government News Release

People in Nanaimo living with substance-use challenges have access to new sobering, assessment and stabilization services, as B.C. continues to build a comprehensive system of mental-health and addictions care.

Through Island Health, the Province is expanding existing mental-health and addictions care services by adding four new sobering and assessment beds and four new stabilization beds. These beds will provide safe places where people can be connected to life-saving services and supports.

"People in Nanaimo with substance-use challenges need urgent access to services right here in our community," said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "These new sobering, assessment and stabilization beds are an important part of the full continuum of mental-health and substance-use care that we are building for people who need these life-saving services."

The sobering and assessment beds opened April 4, 2022, and are operated by Vancouver Island Mental Health Society at Balmoral House. The stabilization beds opened April 11, 2022, at Crescent House and are operated by Island Crisis Care Society.

"Island Health is thrilled to partner with these long-standing, well-respected social service organizations in Nanaimo," said Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health. "Both organizations work tirelessly to meet the needs of their clients. Island Health is grateful to our community-service partners who play crucial roles in delivering services to clients and building the relationships that are foundational to creating trust and supporting people in the long term."

The sobering and assessment beds are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offer a safe place for people under significant influence of substances to rest and be monitored. While there, they can be connected to other health and social services and can access resources to meet their basic needs. The stabilization beds can support people for as long as 30 days and include opportunities to connect with services to support their health and healing.

Funding for these beds is part of the Province's $500-million investment in Budget 2021 focused on building a comprehensive system of mental-health and addictions care.

Quotes:

Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan - 

"As we continue to lose lives to the extremely toxic illicit drug supply, these new substance-use services are welcome news for our community. They will provide our most vulnerable residents with an opportunity to be in a safe place where they can get connected to the supports that can save their lives and get them on the path to healing."

​Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum - 

"Today's announcement means that people with substance-use challenges in our region will be able to get more supports close to home. Our government is listening to the needs of people and investing in solutions that will benefit our communities." 

Taryn O'Flanagan, executive director, Vancouver Island Mental Health Society - 

"Sobering and assessment beds provide a safe place where acutely intoxicated individuals can sleep, be assessed and receive basic services and supports. People are supported by a team of staff that are compassionate, non-judgmental and ready to provide client-centred supports to meet the needs of the individual."

Violet Hayes, executive director, Island Crisis Care Society - 

"Stabilization beds can be the first step toward a journey to recovery. We provide a place where people can stay for several weeks while they gain some stability, begin to connect with services, and think about what the next steps in their substance-use journey might be."

Quick Facts:

* People can access the sobering and assessment beds through self-referral or referrals by any social-service agency, health-care organization, law enforcement agency, emergency services personnel or any member of the community.

* Vancouver Island Mental Health Society will operate eight sobering and assessment beds at Balmoral House - four new beds and four that are being relocated from Crescent House.

* Island Crisis Care Society will convert four of their existing sobering and assessment beds at Crescent House into stabilization beds, adding these to the the two stabilization beds they already offer.

* People can access the stabilization beds through Island Health's mental-health and substance-use community outreach services.

Learn More:

Vancouver Island Mental Health Society: https://www.vancouverislandmentalhealthsociety.org/

Island Crisis Care Society: https://www.islandcrisiscaresociety.ca/

A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in B.C.: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCMentalHealthRoadmap_2019.pdf

Community Wellness Grant Program calls for applications

Communities on Vancouver Island will benefit from up to $800,000 in Community Wellness Grants being provided by Island Health to improve the health and well-being of Island residents.

Now in its fifth year, Island Health’s Community Wellness Grant program provides the opportunity for not-for-profit organizations, local government organizations and Indigenous Nations, organizations and communities to apply for one-time funding for the development of new wellness initiatives and programs. 

In the face of two provincial health emergencies, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing drug poisoning crisis, the focus of the 2022/2023 funding cycle is community resilience, including connected, diverse, safe, active, and nourished communities.

“A key priority for Island Health is improving the health and wellness of the population, including supporting community-led health and wellness initiatives,” said Kathy MacNeil, Island Health’s President and CEO. “The innovative projects funded by the Community Wellness Grant Program make a real impact for the people we serve throughout our region.”

A total of up to $600,000 is available for individual/small grant funding. Individual grants will be awarded up to $12,000 each.

To encourage partnerships and collaboration, the remaining $200,000 is allocated for projects that are multi-jurisdictional/multi-agency and involve a minimum of three partner organizations. Partnership grant applications will be awarded up to $50,000 each. 

 “Communities being able to identify and address the health of their members is a key component of community wellness,” said Dr. Charmaine Enns, Island Health’s Acting Chief Medical Health Officer. “The collaborative wellness interventions that Island Health supports through this program make a difference in empowering communities for improving the social determinants of health.”

Examples of projects funded recently through Community Wellness Grants Program include a tenant-built Indigenous plants and medicine garden at a culturally supportive housing site, a trauma informed mindfulness and movement group for survivors of violence, and a ‘school to farm’ program where youth learned about agriculture and climate change mitigation.

 For more information on how to apply for a Community Wellness Grant and for updates on some of our previous

grant recipients, please visit http://communitygrants.islandhealth.ca/

Temporary relocation of main entrance at Hospital

People attending Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) should be aware of the temporary relocation of the main entrance to the hospital.

 The main entrance to NRGH will be closed from May 30 to July 22 to complete necessary repairs to the roofing membrane and concrete surfaces directly outside the main entrance doors.

During this time, all foot traffic will be redirected to the adjacent perinatal entrance. There will be signage around the area directing people to the appropriate entrance and the Island Health Ambassador station will be relocated to the perinatal entrance to support patients who may have questions or require assistance.

Helping more British Columbians visit the dentist

220504 – VANCOUVER - The Province is helping more British Columbians with low incomes receive much-needed dental care.

Not-for-profit clinics will receive $2.8 million in new support over the next three years to ensure they can continue providing life-changing dental care for people in need at 21 clinics throughout B.C.

"Everyone should be able to visit the dentist and money shouldn't be a barrier to accessing that care," said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. "Having healthy teeth is about confidence, dignity and overall well-being. While we look forward to details on how Ottawa will join us in providing this critical service, we're building a stronger province for everyone by making sure all British Columbians can put their best smile forward."

In 2021, not-for-profit clinics provided dental care for people with low incomes for free or at a reduced rate more than 47,000 times.

This funding to the BC Dental Association (BCDA) provides stability for the province's not-for-profit dental clinics, helping offset costs, such as materials and dental lab fees, required to provide services to financially vulnerable people. It will also support the purchase of equipment, such as sterilization and X-ray machines, dental instruments and pediatric equipment.

Increasing access to dental care for people in need is part of TogetherBC, the Province's first poverty-reduction strategy. Funding dental services also supports commitments under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

Quotes:

Niki Sharma, Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Non-Profits - 

"We're proud to support British Columbians and the not-for-profits that have supported people throughout the pandemic. Our government chooses to invest in people. This vital funding will ensure there is a place for families with low incomes, seniors and people to go to for urgent or routine dental care."

Dr. Samson Ng, president, British Columbia Dental Association -

"The BCDA is extremely grateful for the generous funding by the B.C. government in support of the not-for-profit dental clinics in our province. As oral health-care professionals and community members, B.C.'s dentists are committed to providing inclusive access to quality dental care. This funding demonstrates the ongoing, vital partnership between oral health-care providers, government, and the charitable organizations that have kept these clinics operating through extremely challenging times."

TogetherBC, British Columbia's Poverty Reduction Strategy:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy

Information on reduced cost dental clinics in B.C.:
http://www.yourdentalhealth.ca/visiting-your-dentist/reduced-cost-clinics

Island declares one new outbreak, four others end

Sidney Care Home long-term care home in Sidney –Three resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak.

The case numbers reported in this bulletin are cases that have been confirmed via PCR testing or follow up from Island Health’s case and contact management team.

In general, the following outbreak response protocols have been implemented at the site:

  • Essential visits and single designated visitor visits will continue;
  • No congregate dining or group activities;
  • Staff movement will be limited wherever possible;
  • Enhanced cleaning and infection control measures will continue;
  • Residents, families and staff are being notified;
  • Enhanced screening of all staff and patients for symptoms.

During this time, Island Health will support the sites to take any further actions required and answer questions from staff, patients and family members.

Island Health has implemented comprehensive strategies to prevent and respond to COVID-19 in long-term care, acute care, assisted living and licensed care facilities.

Cowichan District Hospital – eight patient cases were attributed to this outbreak. but it remained limited to the 2 Central medicine unit.

The Gardens at Qualicum Beach long-term care home – In total, 12 resident cases and seven staff cases were attributed to this outbreak. The outbreak remained limited to the Windsor Unit. 

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence long-term care home in Nanaimo – six resident cases and three staff cases were attributed to this outbreak. The outbreak remained limited to the Sandpiper unit.

Echo Village long-term care home in Port Alberni, 27 resident cases and 11 staff cases were attributed to this outbreak.

Staff are commended for continuing to deliver high quality, compassionate care while diligently following outbreak protocols.

Outbreak protocols will now be ended at the sites. Enhanced infection prevention and control measures and monitoring of residents, patients and staff for symptoms will continue.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit: www.islandhealth.ca/covid19.

Island Health declares three new COVID-19 outbreaks

Nanaimo Seniors Village

Island Health has identified new COVID cases at two Nanaimo facilities – Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Nanaimo Seniors Village. A third one is at Victoria General Hospital.

Five patient cases have been identified related to outbreak at NRGH. 

Two resident cases have been identified related to the NSV outbreak and is limited to the assisted living side of the facility and the long-term care home is not currently affected. Nanaimo Seniors Village is owned and operated by West Coast Seniors Housing Management.

The NRGH outbreak is limited to the fifth floor and no other areas of the hospital are affected. NRGH remains a safe place to attend and people should not avoid seeking emergency care.

Nine patient cases have been identified at Victoria General Hospital - 6A and 6B Neuro medicine units. The outbreak declaration is limited to 6A and 6B and no other areas of the hospital are affected by this outbreak declaration. VGH remains a safe place to attend and people should not avoid seeking emergency care, should they need it.

The case numbers have been confirmed via PCR testing or follow up from Island Health’s case and contact management team.

In general, the following outbreak response protocols have been implemented at the sites:

  • Essential visits can continue in outbreak units and sites. Social visits are stopped;
  • Staff movement will be limited wherever possible;
  • No congregate dining or group activities for residents of affected units;
  • Enhanced cleaning and infection control measures will continue;
  • Residents, families and staff are being notified;
  • Enhanced screening of all staff and residents for symptoms.

Outbreaks declared over:

Luther Court long-term care home in Victoria I– Three resident cases and four staff cases were attributed to this outbreak. Luther Court is owned and operated by Luther Court Society.

Sidney All Care long-term care home in Sidney– one resident case was attributed to this outbreak. Sidney All Care is owned and operated by All Care Canada.

Sidney Care Home long-term care home in Sidney– One resident case was attributed to this outbreak. Sidney Care Home is owned and operated by The Care Group.

Staff at these sites are commended for their excellent work delivering high quality, compassionate care under challenging circumstances.

Outbreak protocols will now be ended at the sites. Enhanced infection prevention and control measures and monitoring of staff and residents for symptoms will continue.

During this time, Island Health will support the sites to take any further actions required and answer questions from staff, residents and family members.

Island Health has implemented comprehensive strategies to prevent and respond to COVID-19 in long-term care, acute care, assisted living and licensed care facilities.

 For more information about COVID-19, please visit: www.islandhealth.ca/covid19.

Three additional long-term care outbreaks

Steve Crabb photo

220121 – Island Health has declared three additional long-term care outbreaks.

New outbreaks:

Mount St. Mary Hospital long-term care home in Victoria
Two resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak. The outbreak declaration is limited to the Cedar House.
Mount St. Mary Hospital is owned and operated by Marie Esther Society.

Echo Village long-term care home in Port Alberni
Seven resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak.
Echo Village is owned and operated by Alberni-Clayoquot Continuing Care Society.

Arrowsmith Lodge long-term care home in Parksville
Two resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak. The outbreak declaration is limited to the Cottonwood and Dogwood units.
Arrowsmith Lodge is owned and operated by Arrowsmith Health Care Society.

The case numbers reportedare cases that have been confirmed via PCR testing or follow up from Island Health’s case and contact management team.

In general, the following outbreak response protocols have been implemented at the sites:

  • No admissions or transfers to affected units;
  • Essential visits can continue in outbreak units and sites;
  • Staff movement will be limited wherever possible;
  • No congregate dining or group activities for residents of affected units;
  • Enhanced cleaning and infection control measures will continue;
  • Residents, families and staff are being notified;
  • Enhanced screening of all staff and residents for symptoms;
  • COVID-19 testing as determined by the Medical Health Officer and Infection Prevention and Control.

During this time, Island Health will support the sites to take any further actions required and answer questions from staff, residents and family members. 

Island Health has implemented comprehensive strategies to prevent and respond to COVID-19 in long-term care, acute care, assisted living and licensed care facilities.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit: www.islandhealth.ca/covid19.

Island Health COVID-19 outbreak updates

220120 – Island Health has declared three additional long-term care outbreaks and updated the status of an existing outbreak at Dufferin Place in Nanaimo. 

The outbreak declared at Dufferin Place has been expanded to include the entire site in the outbreak declaration. A total of 27 resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak. Residents are being closely monitored and, in general, are experiencing mild symptoms at this time.The case numbers reported in this bulletin are cases that have been confirmed via PCR testing or follow up from Island Health’s case and contact management team.

New outbreaks:

Fir Park Village long-term care home in Port Alberni
Three resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak. The outbreak declaration is limited to the Blue and Yellow units at this time. Fir Park Village is owned and operated by the Alberni-Clayoquot Continuing Care Society.

The Summit long-term care home in Victoria
Four resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak. The outbreak declaration is limited to the Eagle unit at this time. The Summit is owned and operated by Island Health.

Parkwood Court long-term care home in Victoria
Four resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak. The outbreak declaration is for the first and second floor at this time. Parkwood Court is owned and operated by Revera.
In general, the following outbreak response protocols have been implemented at the sites:

  • No admissions or transfers to affected units;
  • Essential visits can continue in outbreak units and sites;
  • Staff movement will be limited wherever possible;
  • No congregate dining or group activities for residents of affected units;
  • Enhanced cleaning and infection control measures will continue;
  • Residents, families and staff are being notified;
  • Enhanced screening of all staff and residents for symptoms;
  • COVID-19 testing as determined by the Medical Health Officer and Infection Prevention and Control.

During this time, Island Health will support the sites to take any further actions required and answer questions from staff, residents and family members. 

Island Health has implemented comprehensive strategies to prevent and respond to COVID-19 in long-term care, acute care, assisted living and licensed care facilities.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit: www.islandhealth.ca/covid19.

Rules on dining and visiting seniors facilities

Indoor and outdoor dining is allowed, with physical distancing requirements

  • A maximum of 6 people at a table
  • Two metres or physical barriers between tables
  • Customers must stay seated and cannot move between or visit other tables
  • No dancing
  • Normal liquor service hours
  • Masks are required when not seated at a table

Restaurants, cafes and pubs must scan proof of vaccination QR codes for entry.

LONG-TERM CARE AND SENIORS LIVING FACILITIES

Only essential visitors are allowed at long-term care facilities.

  • Essential visits include visits for compassionate reasons, such as end-of-life care or those essential to a resident’s care and mental well-being
  • Contact the long-term care facility to find out if you qualify as an essential visitor

All visitors are allowed at seniors' assisted living facilities.

Larger, facility-wide social events or gatherings, adult day programs and in-facility respite are allowed.

  • Indoor gatherings may include residents and staff across units of a facility
  • Outdoor gatherings may include family and friends

PROTECTING LONG-TERM CARE RESIDENTS

All visitors must show proof of full vaccination before visiting a long-term care or seniors' assisted-living facility. The easiest way to show proof of vaccination is using your BC Vaccine Card.

All visitors who are 12 years of age and older must also complete rapid point-of-care testing at the entrance.

Safety precautions like hand hygiene and physical distancing will continue.

Before your visit, review BCCDC information for Visitors in Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Assisted Living (PDF, 661KB).

  • All visitors must wear medical masks in hallways and common areas
  • You can only remove your mask when visiting residents in their living area if you're fully vaccinated

Island Health adjusts services to strengthen patient safety

220118 – Island Health has implemented several temporary service adjustments to strengthen patient care during Omicron-related COVID-19 staffing challenges. 

“Omicron-driven COVID-19 staffing challenges significantly impact the ability of Island Health staff and medical staff to provide safe, quality care for those whom we are responsible to support. While temporarily pausing or changing services has a real impact on those who have to wait longer for care, we recognize it is necessary at this most extraordinary time,” said Kathy MacNeil, Island Health president and CEO.

Service adjustments include: 

Surgery and Ambulatory Care:

  • Elective, scheduled surgeries were postponed at the majority of hospitals in early January, and will continue to be postponed until the end of the month at our three largest sites (Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH), Victoria General Hospital and Royal Jubilee Hospital) while remaining sites begin restarting where staffing levels support. The reduction of inpatient surgical services has reduced demand on inpatient beds and staffing requirements.
  • A number of ambulatory care services have been slowed down, with services maintained for those with greatest need.
  • Staffing levels at larger acute care sites is also being improved through the redeployment of ambulatory and surgical staff to areas in critical demand.  This is helping to stabilize daytime staffing hours and enabling other staff to move to weekend shifts to enhance staffing during times when it is most challenging.

Ambulance Diversions:

  • At Saanich Peninsula Hospital, Island Health recently diverted ambulances from the emergency department over five days to allow the site to have fewer inpatients to ensure a manageable staff-to-patient ratio.
  • Island Health has implemented rotating ambulance diversions at the emergency departments at Port Hardy Hospital (PHH) and Port McNeill Hospital (PMH) as required based on hospital staffing to ensure that we can support inpatient care at each site and provide emergency lab access in Northern Vancouver Island.

Staff Deployment and/or Adjusting Care Location(s):

  • Staffing levels are being adjusted on a day-to-day and shift-by-shift basis, and in advance whenever possible, to balance risk and help utilize human resources most efficiently across the system. For example, psychiatric emergency services (PES) are assessed on a shift-by-shift basis and, when necessary, new admissions to the service may be temporarily paused and patients may be temporarily cared for in the main emergency department or moved back to the main emergency department for safe care if they are already admitted to PES.

Community Health Service Appointment Contingency Planning:

  • On a daily basis, the Community Health Services program assesses services and implements contingency plans, such as rescheduling non-critical visits, for example, laundry and linen services, as necessary. This process will continue in the weeks ahead. 

Amalgamation of Satellite Lab Service:

  • In order to ensure reliable, consistent acute and outpatient laboratory service, Island Health has made the decision to temporarily close the Admirals Walk outpatient lab located at 1505 Admirals Rd. effective January 17 until April 1, 2022. Patients who routinely access this location can access services at the Victoria General Hospital outpatient lab.
  • Hours have been reduced at the Sidney outpatient lab located at 2357 James White Blvd to 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. weekdays and closed the lab temporarily Saturdays. The Saanich Peninsula Hospital outpatient lab will re-instate Saturday hours 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Long-term Care Service Adjustments:

  • Staffing at sites is being monitored on a daily basis and contingency plans are in place to support long-term care homes, including re-scheduling activities or services to support clients and residents and shifting our staff across LTC sites as needed.

Enhanced Leadership Support:

  • This pandemic and recent Omicron wave has understandably added complexity and stress to an already overtaxed health care team. To support staff and patients during these exceptional times, additional leadership supports have been put in place on weekends, evenings and through the on-call structure to ensure teams have the supports in place to make decisions to support safe patient care during this challenging time.

“These are not actions we want to take, and we don’t take them lightly knowing the impact they have on those we serve”, said MacNeil. “We are grateful to the residents of the communities of Vancouver Island for their understanding and continued support of our health care teams during this challenging time. We also acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of our teams who continue to work tireless to ensure patients receive the highest quality care possible despite these challenges.”