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Clarification about staff under quarantine, isolation and use of PPE at the MUHC

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) would like to clarify some points raised in an article published on CTV News website last Friday.

At the present moment, out of 3219 nurses, 29 are under quarantine; that’s less than one percent (0.9%) of our nursing work force. Over the past two months, two outbreaks were declared at the Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC. From November 3 to November 11, on the 15th floor, three nurses tested positive and one nurse were quarantined. From November 12 to December 13, at the ED, five nurses tested positive and six nurses were quarantined.

The MUHC applies the strict measure of compulsory isolation for all staff experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. Anyone presenting symptoms or who has come into contact with someone who has tested positive, must not report for work and call a dedicated line for instructions. Under no circumstances, would we require nurses with COVID-19 symptoms to continue working.

Clinical staff must adhere to infection prevention and control routine practices, which are crucial to prevent nosocomial transmission of COVID-19. This includes hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory etiquette, not touching one’s face with contaminated hands, source control, environmental cleaning and disinfection, among other elements. The MUHC has an appropriate inventory of PPE for healthcare workers offering care to patients and ensures its effective management. Although we continue to manage PPE responsibly, under no circumstances would we ask staff to wear unsafe PPE.

In this period of crisis, we have had to make the difficult decision to reorganize our teams and resources. It is certainly true that our front-line workers are experiencing situations and schedules they were not used to before. However, we would like to make it clear that no planned vacations for MUHC nursing staff have been cancelled.

We recognize that our staff may be experiencing psychological distress and burnout during these difficult times. We care about their physical and emotional well-being and have taken additional measures to support them.

Finally, as we endure extraordinary circumstances, we sincerely thank all staff across our sites for their hard work, collaboration and immeasurable contribution to the well-being to our patients.

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