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PMH planning for a possible pandemic push

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With the crush of the COVID-19 pandemic looming, morale in area health facilities remains strong, says Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson.
“Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) is extraordinarily proud of all our physicians, staff and volunteers who have stepped forward to meet the ever-changing demand during this crisis. While many Manitobans are being told to stay home, our staff continue to work every day ensuring the people we serve receive the care they need and deserve,” Gilson said.
“We sincerely thank our staff, physicians and volunteers for their ongoing commitment and dedication to this unprecedented cause. We have encouraged all of our staff to discuss their personal circumstances, working environment, concerns and fears with their managers and supervisors.”
Gilson added the rapidly changing circumstances make it difficult to prepare area facilities.
To that end the region has convened an incident command structure to examine all of the needs and possibilities in its properties.
The planning is being done in consultation with the provincial incident command structure, she said.
“Together, we continue to review how best to safely flow patients through the system, once medical needs are met,” Gilson said.
At present one of the most pressing needs is ensuring the safety of all patients, volunteers and staff in hospitals and care homes.
As part of the provincial response, visitor access at all Manitoba hospitals has been suspended.
Exceptions for compassionate reasons will continue to be made on a case-by-case basis, but will adhere to vigilant screening. One visitor per patient may be admitted with the approval of individual facility managers in some departments.
Of course, not all necessary visits to hospitals are related to COVID-19.
“At this time, all patients who arrive at all health care facilities and sites, including to the Emergency Department, will be screened and further assessed by health-care providers to ensure appropriate protections are in place for both patients and staff,” Gilson said.
Given the global nature of the pandemic, the provincial health care system at large is concerned about securing the necessary supplies should the number of cases balloon.
PMH is no different, Gilson said, adding planning for the needed supplies and equipment has been ongoing as part of the provincial incident command structure.
“We continue to work provincially to plan for needed supplies given changing directions. We are always planning and preparing,” Gilson said, adding Manitoba companies and individuals are supporting the cause.
“While we continue to source more supplies, Manitobans are stepping up with donations to bolster our supply.”
Gilson added those wanting to help can retrieve information on equipment needs and guidelines at sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/supply-donations.
Finally, while the public is concerned about the possibility of COVID patients in their communities, PMH is adhering to long-standing practices that public health does not identify individuals, as that could result in the release of personal health information.
“In areas with small populations and a small number of cases, there is a greater opportunity for the identification of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19,” Gilson said.
“If a public health risks is assessed and it is deemed necessary to protect the health of others, information is released.”
For more information on provincial statistics and to access the online screening tool for COVID-19, visit manitoba.ca/covid19.