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What BCNU members need to know about Ebola readiness in BC

  • Bulletin; Health & Safety
BCNU is hearing from members who are concerned about their safety, should they have to deal with a patient with a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of Ebola.

BCNU is hearing from members who are concerned about their safety, should they have to deal with a patient with a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of Ebola.

All members on units designated to receive Ebola patients should be insisting that the health authorities provide them with the necessary personal protective equipment and the training required to safely care for Ebola patients. Training should include practice drills and simulated exercises as well as instruction in the protocols for Ebola care.

In addition to the CDC guidelines on personal protective equipment we are recommending that all members wear a fit tested N95 respirator.

If you go to work and are asked to care for a patient with a suspected or confirmed case of Ebola, you should only perform this work if you have been provided with the proper equipment, have been trained in its use and are knowledgeable about the care protocols for Ebola patients.

Steps to follow if you think it would be unsafe to provide care:

If you think it is unsafe for you to provide care because, for example,

  • you have not been provided required equipment

  • you have not been provided training in the use of the equipment and/or specific care procedures for Ebola patients,

Stop the assigned work and immediate​​ly notify your supervisor or employer that you cannot provide care until the concern is resolved. Given the serious nature of Ebola, we are recommending that in addition to notifying your supervisor/manager you also contact your site administrator.

Once notified, your supervisor/manager must immediately investigate and either:

  • remedy the unsafe situation

  • advise you if they don't think your concerns are valid

If, following the investigation, the situation remains unresolved and you still believe that it is unsafe to provide care, your supervisor/manager must investigate the matter in your presence along with a worker representative of the Joint Health and Safety Committee or a worker who is selected by the BCNU. This is why it is important that you make sure you are aware of who your representative is on the worksite Joint Health and Safety Committee, as well as who your steward is, at your worksite.

If that investigation does not resolve the matter and you continue to think it's unsafe to provide care, you and your supervisor/manager must immediately notify WorkSafeBC who must investigate the matter without undue delay and issue whatever orders are deemed necessary. The number for WorkSafeBC is 1-888-621-7233. More information on the Refusal of Unsafe Work can be found in Section 3.12/3.13 of the BC Occupational Health and Safety regulation.

BCNU President Gayle Duteil has reviewed our concerns regarding BC’s readiness for any Ebola cases with the Province’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall. It is BCNU’s expectation that all of the policies and procedures with respect to Ebola are fully communicated, understood and implemented at the front lines of care, in order to assure health care workers are protected.

BCNU has sent a letter to the CEOs of each health authority, detailing some of the areas requiring attention.

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