Fraser Health hiring staff to respond to surge in COVID-19 cases

Fraser Health is taking action to address a “surge” in COVID-19 cases in the region.

As of Oct. 28, the provincial government’s website indicated that 1,784 of the 2,322 current COVID cases in B.C. were reported in Fraser Health.

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“As part of our response to the surge that we are seeing right now, we are actively hiring large numbers of people, including public health nurses, including environmental health officers, social workers and contact tracers to ensure that we can stay on top of the numbers that we are seeing right now,” said Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, chief medical health officer and vice-president, population health for Fraser Health.

During an Oct. 27 media briefing, Brodkin said it’s important to “bend our curve back down again” to ensure the health region has a sufficient workforce to follow up on all of the cases and to contact individuals “in a timely way” so they don’t go on to infect other people.

She said Fraser Health’s target is to follow up on all cases within 24 hours of receiving the lab reports. If that’s not occurring, she said it’s a concern and indicates additional actions are needed to bend the curve back down again.

Earlier this week, some parents indicated they’d been informed their children’s vaccination appointments had been cancelled.

“We do appreciate and understand how very upsetting it is if you have a booked appointment, and that appointment has to be rescheduled,” Brodkin said. “We have two priorities right now that our public health team is working on. The first is to stay on top of COVID cases and contact management, and that is our number 1 priority. Our second priority is to keep our immunization clinics, both for flu and for childhood immunizations, open.”

In the event that Fraser Health has to reschedule an immunization clinic in order to free up resources to deal with COVID cases, Brodkin said it will ensure people whose appointments are being rescheduled are offered another appointment as quickly as possible.

“Every person who is diagnosed with COVID infection in Fraser Health will receive a phone call from a public health nurse, who will collect the details of how many cases as well as a list of any contacts that case may have exposed,” she explained. “Then all of those contacts also have to be reached. That is priority number 1.”

According to Brodkin, the public health units will remain open, as they provide an essential service.

In response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and the increasing percentage of people who are testing positive among those being tested, Fraser Health representatives are appealing to community members to minimize public gatherings and to restrict gatherings in personal residences to the people who live in that home.

 

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