Health PEI Health Care Workers: COVID-19 FAQs
These frequently asked questions (FAQs) have been developed through the COVID-19 Joint Response Team and Health PEI Human Resources to help inform Health PEI staff and physicians as we respond to the virus. For the purpose of this information, all employees of Health PEI are considered Health Care Workers, as referenced below.
These FAQs may change over time. New versions will be sent to staff as requirements change and posted to Health PEI and Government websites.
Day-to-day COVID precautions:
Please follow the below guidance for day-to-day interactions between staff:
- Avoid social gatherings between staff members;
- While eating lunches, ensure a 6 foot distance between other staff. Lunch gatherings are a common place for COVID-19 to spread;
- Maintain physical distancing wherever possible;
- Wear a mask in all public spaces including meeting rooms, nursing stations and hallways; and
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is self-isolation?
Self-isolation means limiting your contact with others. This means all situations where you may come in contact with others, such as social gatherings, work, school, child care, athletic events, university, faith-based gatherings, health care facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and all public gatherings.
- New guidelines implemented March 1, 2021 may require COVID-19 testing during your 14 day self-isolation period.
- Stay on your own property while you are in self-isolation.
- If you live in an apartment building, you must stay on the building's property and practice physical distancing while in corridors, stairwells, elevators, other shared spaces and outdoors.
- Do not leave home unless attending a testing clinic or absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care.
- Do not go to school, work, and public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
- Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.
- If you must be in contact with others, keep at least 2 metres between yourself and the other person. Keep interactions brief and wear a mask.
- Avoid contact with individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults.
- Avoid contact with pets if you live with other people that may also be touching the pet.
The PEI Chief Public Health Office recommends that if you are the only member of your household who needs to self-isolate, that you isolate in a completely separate location or in a separate section of a residence with your own bedroom, bathroom and entrance/exit. If you need assistance in developing an appropriate COVID-19 self-isolation plan, please contact: DeptHW@gov.pe.ca
What is work-isolation?
The preferred option for Islanders returning to PEI from another province is to self-isolate and work from home for 14 days, if possible. If this option is not possible and they must return to their workplace, individuals can apply to work-isolate for 14 days. Health PEI is not recommending any non-essential travel off PEI at this time. Health PEI will not support work-isolation requests for staff or physicians who travel off Island for non-essential reasons. It is recommended that workers discuss the application with their employer prior to submitting the application and before they leave the province. Individuals approved to work-isolate must call 1-855-354-4358 in advance to book testing appointments.
Work-isolation requires the individual to self-isolate at home when not at work or attending COVID-19 testing appointments. Any current health care worker (except in long-term care and community care) arriving to PEI from within Canada test at 0-1, 4-6, and 9-11 days; health care worker must test negative prior to start of work isolation. When not at work, the health care worker must self-isolate for 14 days.
While at work they must physical distance, wear a mask at all times, perform frequent hand washing/sanitizing, avoid groups (this means eating alone and avoiding shared spaces such as lunch rooms), and adhere to any other arrangements made by their employer.
Any current health care worker working in Long-Term Care or community care who travels outside of PEI must self-isolate for 14 days on return to PEI and cannot return to work until the period of self-isolation is complete.
If a worker is symptomatic, they cannot participate in work-isolation. Anyone experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 should visit a drop-in testing clinic.
Health care workers travelling back and forth from northern nursing are exempt unless they are working in Long-Term Care. These health care workers are frequently tested. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, report them to your employer and visit a visit a drop-in COVID-19 clinic or call 1-855-354-4358 to be screened and booked for testing if required.
Exceptions to the above direction:
If the health care worker cannot be replaced and their absence will impact the ability to continue to offer services (i.e. RN, LPN, PCW, Physicians on Call, Emergency Department employees) the staff member is able to come to work. They must follow public health guidelines including:
- Wear a mask at all times;
- Practice good hand hygiene (frequent washing);
- Maintain physical distancing where possible at work; and
- Eat alone and physically distance at work.
It is critically important that people monitor for symptoms and arrange for testing at the first sign of any symptoms of COVID-19.
Please note: there is no self-isolation exemption for health care workers who travel outside of the province for personal/recreational travel outside of PEI. Employees who do travel for personal/recreational reasons outside of PEI and do not apply or do not qualify to work isolate are required to self-isolate upon return and are not eligible for paid administrative leave during the self-isolation period. Vacation or other leave requests may be submitted for this time but will be considered and determined to be either approved or denied in the same manner as any other leave request based on operational requirements. Sick leave is not available unless symptomatic.
If you have any questions about this situation, please contact your HR Manager or email COVID-19 Employee Information@ihis.org
International Workers / Federal Quarantine Act
If you are told at the Canadian border that you must isolate for 14 days, you must self-isolate for 14 days in PEI. (Test at 0-1 and 9-11 days after arrival).
Any current health care worker arriving to PEI from anywhere outside of Canada – test at 0-1, 4-6, and 9-11 days and must self-isolate. Note: Health care workers arriving to PEI from anywhere outside of Canada are not permitted to work until they finish their 14-day period of self-isolation.
Workers who enter PEI within 14 days of international travel and are exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirement, as determined by the Government of Canada under the federal Quarantine Act, must self-isolate in PEI; they are eligible to work-isolate during the 14 day self-isolation, provided workers receive a negative test prior to starting work and follow all measures listed under “What is work isolation?” above. People who work in health care, meat packing plants, fish plants, correctional facilities, schools, early years centers or day cares are not eligible to work isolate following international travel.
Long-Term Care Specific Guidance
Are employees allowed to work in two or more work locations during the pandemic?
A Public Health Order was issued February 16, 2021 which lifted the restriction of Long-Term Care staff movement between facilities. Staff working in two or more work locations must meet the following guidelines:
- has had a complete series of COVID-19 vaccine**; and
- undergoes routine testing once per week.
**Complete series of vaccine = full dosing regimen of approved vaccine (e.g. 2 doses) + 7 days after second dose.
Can employees who work at a COVID-19 positive unit or testing/assessment site work in Long-Term Care or other health care facilities?
An employee who works at a COVID-19 designated unit with one or more positive case is restricted from working in a Long-Term Care facility.
Employees who work in a designated COVID unit with no positive COVID-19 cases or in a testing/assessment site can still work in other Health PEI units/sites in areas approved under the direction of the Joint Response Team.
Are visiting professionals, allied health, EMS staff, physicians, trades people, etc. restricted from providing services to or within a Long-Term Care Facility?
Restricting the movement of staff among facilities is paramount in preventing the spread of COVID-19 to our most vulnerable population. In exceptional circumstances the Director of Long-Term Care can make an exemption request to the Planning Section Chief of the Joint Response Team, who will review and submit the request to the Chief Public Health Officer, if warranted. These employees will be subject to screening protocols and swabbing to ensure safety for residents and employees and health care providers who provide service / care in Long-Term Care facilities and elsewhere. The screening protocols include regular and ongoing weekly testing, regardless of how frequent they provide that care (even if the movement is only once a month, weekly testing would still be required).
Can employees who work with other employers (i.e. jails, group homes etc.) who are not included in the Public Health Order continue to work at a Long-Term Care facility and the other employer?
Yes, employees can continue to work at both worksites. If the other worksite has any COVID positive cases the impacted staff will be restricted to the outbreak worksite. Staff are responsible to advise their manager if they have been in contact with COVID, as well as through the screening process and must follow the Chief Public Health Office requirements.
Can employees work at other types of employers?
The direction is not intended to restrict staff members from employment that is external to the health sector, for example at the local Co-Op, Walmart, restaurant industry, school districts, etc. The intent is to restrict employees from working at multiple Long-Term Care facilities.
Does the Public Health Order apply to allied/support services staff, for example dietary, maintenance and environmental services workers?
Yes, the Public Health Order applies to support services staff members as well as staff members who provide direct care services.
Note: trades people and some other specialized staff that have been specifically identified are exempted from the Ministerial Order, but require frequent testing.
Employees will retain their combined guaranteed hours. Can you explain further?
In an outbreak situation, where employees are restricted to one worksite, they will be scheduled and guaranteed hours. For example, an employee has 0.25 FTE at worksite A and a 0.50 FTE at worksite B. When they are restricted to a worksite, they will be guaranteed and scheduled to work their total combined 0.75 FTE. The calculation was based on the average number of hours worked in the 6 weeks prior.
Employees will maintain their hourly rate for the guaranteed hours of their fulltime/part-time positions and relief/casual hours already scheduled in the posted and confirmed period when first restricted, regardless of the site to which they are assigned. Can you explain this further?
If an employee has a 0.25 FTE position at Worksite A with an hourly wage of $25 per hour, and a 0.50 FTE position at Worksite B with an hourly rate of $20 per hour. If they are restricted to Worksite B, they will receive their normal $20 per hour’s rate for their 0.50 FTE but will be paid $25 per hour for the 0.25 FTE that “originated” at Worksite A.
How does the Public Health Order apply to integrated facilities that provide Long-Term Care services and other integrated services?
The only Health PEI facility specifically identified in the order is Margaret Stewart Ellis Home.
Provisions have been put in place for this specific facility in consultation with the Provincial Infection Prevention and Control team. Other facilities co-located with Long-Term Care and having integrated services have infection control guidelines to follow as well. Any specific questions should be directed to your Manager/Supervisor.
How long does a staff member being hired or re-deployed from home care, acute care or Long-Term Care have to be out of the workplace to be considered safe to begin their new position or re-deployment in a Long-Term Care facility?
The Employee will be required to be screened and tested prior to starting at the Long-Term Care facility.
When employees live together and one individual works at a Long-Term Care facility and the other individual(s) work at a different Long-Term Care facility or an Acute Care site, etc. are they able to continue working?
Yes, these employees can continue to work at their respective worksites. All employees are required to follow the self-monitoring and screening protocols. If one employee becomes symptomatic with COVID symptoms, the symptomatic employee must arrange for testing and self-isolate. The asymptomatic employee can continue to work and monitor for symptoms. If the symptomatic employee receives a positive test result, everyone in the household must self-isolate.
Health PEI Specific Guidance
I have travelled to NB or NS for a medical appointment for myself or a member of my household. Am I required to work-isolate, self-isolate or, can I report for work?
If you are a PEI resident and you must travel to other provinces for same-day essential travel, you may do so without having to self-isolate upon return, for eligible activities, if certain conditions are met.
I am a health care worker and am asymptomatic but someone I live with is being tested. Am I required to self-isolate?
If the person being tested is symptomatic and has no exposure history, the health care worker is able to attend work provided they wear a mask at all times while at work and monitor for symptoms until the test result is returned. If the test result is positive, the health care worker must self-isolate and continue to monitor for symptoms.
If the person being tested is asymptomatic, the health care worker can work unless testing is being conducted due to exposure and/or contact tracing as identified by the Chief Public Health Office. Guidance will be provided by the Chief Public Health Office.
If the HCW becomes symptomatic they are to visit a drop-in COVID testing site or contact 1-855-354-4358 for screening and instruction.
If my spouse or a member of my household is a rotational worker, does it impact my ability to report to work?
If your spouse or member of the household is registered as a rotational worker and is following the testing protocols the rest of the household can work and carry on everyday life as they normally would.
Rotational workers must follow the guidelines provided by the Chief Public Health Office.
What is being done to protect health care workers on the front lines?
PEI is following the Public Health Agency of Canada national guidance regarding screening, identification, infection control including personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and follow-up.
The health and safety of all health care workers is a priority for the COVID-19 Joint Response Team of the Chief Public Health Office and Health PEI, which is closely monitoring and responding to the issue.
Health care workers are being provided all the necessary personal protective equipment required to mitigate risk of being infected with COVID-19, including masks/facial protection, gowns, gloves and hand sanitizer.
A medical mask/facial protection is to be worn by all staff or physicians who cannot physically distance themselves at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from patients. Extended use guidelines are to be followed. Masks do not need to be worn in areas where a physical barrier, such as plexi-glass, is used.
Staff, outside of Long-Term Care homes, who do not provide direct patient care may wear non-medical or cloth mask in health care facilities. Staff in these areas are responsible for providing their own cloth mask and ensuring it is used properly.
I have been mandated to be tested for COVID-19, however, I do not want to be tested. What is the protocol for this?
While we recognize that the thought of being tested may be a concern for some health care workers, testing is required in certain situations. Given that COVID-19 testing has been deemed necessary by the Chief Public Health Office, all health care workers have a professional obligation to comply with testing requirements.
I have tested positive for COVID-19. When can I return to work?
Any health care worker who received a positive test result for COVID-19 must follow any isolation advice provided by Public Health and keep their Managers/Supervisors updated as to their status.
I am symptomatic (cough, chills, etc.…), do I have to self-isolate? Do I have to use sick, paid leave or unpaid leave?
If you are experiencing any symptoms, including mild symptoms, you are not permitted to go to work. You must notify your manager or supervisor and get a COVID-19 test. You may not return to work until after you receive a negative test result and feel well. You must self-isolate while awaiting a test result. If symptoms occur during a shift, you must complete hand hygiene, wear a mask and leave work immediately. You must then get a test and self-isolate until receiving a negative test result.
- During this time, the employee will be on sick leave until test results are confirmed.
- If the test results are negative for COVID-19 without exposure criteria and the employee is no longer symptomatic, the employee returns to work.
- If the test results are positive for COVID-19 the employee follows the direction of Public Health.
If I am an active casual employee without entitlement to paid leave or I am an active temporary or permanent employee without adequate paid sick leave in my bank and I test positive for COVID-19, will I be eligible for leave?
In these extenuating circumstances, you will not incur loss of pay if you test positive for COVID-19. We will continue to pay active casual employees who have worked in the past 14 days, and active temporary and permanent employees who have worked in the past 14 days and do not have paid sick leave in their bank, based on the average hours worked of their last three pay periods. Employees will receive pay for up to 2 weeks or until they are cleared to return to work, whichever is sooner.
If you have any questions about this situation, please contact your Human Resources Manager.
If health care workers are required by the Chief Public Health Office to self-isolate and are asymptomatic, can we use sick time?
Should health care workers who are asymptomatic (not experiencing symptoms) be required to self-isolate, they will be placed on paid administrative leave. This includes casuals who had shifts that were pre-booked.
Some health care workers may have the option/ability to do telework from home or to work-isolate. Please discuss these options with your Manager/Supervisor, if applicable.
Should a health care worker develop any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fatigue, aches, fever, cough and difficulty breathing, they should visit a drop-in COVID-19 testing site or call 1-855-354-4358 for screening to determine whether a test is appropriate. Once symptomatic, paid administrative leave ends and standard sick leave begins as outlined in the respective collective agreement.
Health care workers who become symptomatic and are without adequate sick leave can take unpaid leave. While on unpaid leave, staff can access any vacation/stat/TIL banks to substitute for paid sick leave while they recover and self-isolate. Health care workers without sick leave (including casuals) may be eligible for employment insurance benefits. Employment insurance benefits have been made easier to access by the federal government. You can find further information at servicecanada.ca
If a health care worker tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to continue to self- isolate and follow medical advice. This may extend past the 14-day self-isolation period.
It is important to notify your Manager/Supervisor immediately as to changes in your status.
For detailed information related to specific circumstances, please reach out to your Human Resource Manager.
Do I need to provide a sick note to my employer if I am sick during this pandemic?
If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and you are awaiting test results, a sick note is not required at this time. However, if you are absent due to illness not related to COVID-19, employees are still required to provide medical information consistent with their respective collective agreements which would include nature of illness and how this illness prevents the employee from carrying out the primary duties and functions of their position.
I am pregnant or immunocompromised and am concerned about my safety in the workplace. What should I do?
Health PEI is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its workforce.
If you are a health care worker who is pregnant or immunocompromised and you are concerned about your safety at work, it is recommended that you reach out to your Manager or Human Resources Manager to discuss your concerns and options that may be available to you. You can expect that your Manager/HR Manager may require specific medical information from your physician/health care provider. This may include the nature of the illness and any limitations/restrictions. Where necessary, your physician/health care provider may be provided with information about your current position as well as any safety protocols or equipment that are in place.
Members of the Wellness & Safety Team can also be contacted to answer Occupational Health & Safety questions related to personal protective equipment and to provide additional resource information that may be helpful.
My child/dependent is being sent home from school/daycare and is required to be tested. Am I required to self-isolate? Am I eligible for leave?
If the child is unable to self-isolate alone (either due to age or ability) while awaiting test results, and no one other than the health care worker can provide for the needs of the child, health care workers may access family illness leave as per their respective collective agreement until the test results are returned.
Health care workers are expected to ensure they access testing for the child/dependant as soon as possible at a drop-in COVID-19 clinic or call 8-1-1. The health care worker is not required to self-isolate and may return to work, following all appropriate infection control precautions, when available.
I have concerns my colleagues are not practicing social distancing in the workplace. What do I do?
Health care workers are not always able to practice social distancing when working with patients/residents. However, where the option exists, all employees should be practicing social distancing and wearing masks. This may include staggering lunch breaks, booking larger boardrooms, not meeting in hallways where others need to pass, etc. Concerns should be discussed with the individual or forwarded to your Manager/Supervisor.
My manager has suggested telework may be an option for me. What does this mean?
Managers/Supervisors are asked to support staff to work from home. This should be considered for non-clinical staff where working from home does not affect front-line clinical care of patients/clients. Having fewer staff physically on-site where possible helps to reduce the number of close contacts among health care workers in all our facilities and offices.
We recognize each employee situation could be unique so these requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to both the needs of the employee and operational requirements of the work site and services being delivered. Although not exhaustive, circumstances where the consideration for “working from home” could include:
- employee is required to self-isolate by potential exposure to COVID-19, but are still able to work and contribute but work isolation is not an option;
- the employee cannot be redeployed to another work area but can contribute from home;
- employee can work but there are no other means to keep them attached to the workplace (if service closes).
Managers and supervisors should work with staff individually, collectively and collaboratively as a team to discuss what this means specifically for your program area and the work that you do. Managers/Supervisors must make it clear that working from home still requires productive / meaningful work to support the programs/ services; and it will be temporary.
It is important to remember that you may also be required to report to an alternate worksite or may be deployed on short notice. Work assignments could include counseling from home, education / training, closing files etc.
Employees who work from home must have the required capability to do so (i.e. Employee may be required to provide internet/telephone access) and be available during agreed upon hours. You and your Manager should review the expectations of you and this should be acknowledged in a formal telework arrangement. Managers can contact Human Resources to discuss/obtain a telework contract. The original contract is stored in the health care workers personnel file. Managers will work with employees to determine an appropriate duration for a telework contract based on operational requirements. Employees should be prepared to return to the worksite when called upon to do so by their manager.
Services within my department have been deemed non-essential at present. Will I be reassigned to alternate work or an alternate service/site?
If there is no work available in your current service area you may be reassigned to another service area at any time. Should there be no immediate work available in your service area you may be sent home with pay. However, you need to be ready to report to work when called upon, either to your regular service area or as a reassignment to another service area or role for which you are qualified.
My manager has advised that, due to operational requirements, I may be redeployed or reassigned during the pandemic. Will I be entitled to travel reimbursement?
Employees who are reassigned or redeployed to an alternate worksite may be eligible for travel reimbursement based on the respective Collective Agreement and/or Treasury Board Policy, Article 17.06 (iis.peigov.).
Employee Assistance Program
Services continue to be available via telephone through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Please contact the EAP program if you require additional support. EAP services can be arranged by contacting 902-368-5738 or 1-800-239-3826 or email@example.com
As a reminder, you must report any suspect cases of COVID-19 to the Chief Public Health Office as soon as observed. The PEI COVID-19 Guideline is an evergreen document and will be revised to reflect updates in recommendations. Health care providers can contact the Chief Public Health Office at 902-368-4996, if you have any questions.