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.

These FAQs may change over time. New versions will be sent to staff as requirements change and FAQs posted to Health PEI and Government websites will be updated frequently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any cases of COVID-19 on PEI?

For updated data including number of positive and negative results, as well as number of tests pending, visit princeedwardisland.ca/covid19

What is being done to protect health care workers on the front lines?

PEI is following the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) 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.

Maintaining the health and well-being of health care workers is important for both those individuals and the ongoing health of Islanders.

Health care workers are being provided all the necessary personal protective equipment required to mitigate risk of being infected with COVID-19, including masks, gowns, gloves and hand sanitizer. 

A medical mask is to be worn by all staff or physicians who cannot physically distance themselves at least two 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 who do not provide direct patient care may choose to wear non-medical or cloth masks in health care facilities if they see fit, however, those staff are responsible for providing their own cloth mask and ensuring it is used properly.

The Joint Response Team’s Supply Division is actively monitoring and adjusting supplies as necessary to ensure personal protective equipment is available where it is needed across the province.

Additionally, through the setup of external screening clinics in Charlottetown and Summerside, patients who need testing for COVID-19 are being diverted from acute care settings. Employees who need to access testing can visit a no-appointment required drop-in testing site or contact 1-855-354-4358 to set up an appointment.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation means limiting 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, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and all public gatherings.

  • 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 absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care.
  • Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • If you have to 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

In situations where only one member of the household needs to self-isolate, it is important that other members in the household take the following precautions:

  • Maintain appropriate physical distancing at all times;
  • Ensure enhanced cleaning of all shared spaces following use;
  • Practice good hand hygiene;
  • Wear a mask in public places when physical distancing is not possible. 

Note: There are fines and legal ramifications for non-compliance of self-isolation.

I am a health care worker coming to PEI to work from outside the Atlantic bubble

Health care workers who are coming from one of the provinces outside of the Atlantic Bubble must be tested prior to working and again at day 3 and day 7. They are required to self-isolate for 14 days when not at work (referred to as work-isolation). 

I am a health care worker who works in a Health Care Facility in my home province coming to PEI to work from within the Atlantic bubble

You must be tested prior to working. You are not required to self-isolate.

If I have travelled, am I required to self-isolate?

International travel
If you are a health care worker and have returned to PEI from a trip outside of Canada on March 8th or later, you are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon your return. You must monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, report them to your employer, visit a no-appointment required drop-in testing site or call 1-855-354-4358 to be screened and booked for an appointment to be tested, if warranted, and maintain strict self- isolation for 14 days.

Domestic and inter-provincial travel
If you have returned to PEI from another province or territory outside of the Atlantic bubble , you must self-isolate for 14 days. You must monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, report them to your employer, visit a no-appointment required drop-in testing site or call 1-855-354-4358 to be screened and booked for an appointment to be tested, if warranted, and maintain strict self- isolation for 14 days.

Health care workers can travel freely under the Atlantic Bubble. If the health care worker works in Long Term Care you must declare your travel to your Manager and be tested within 48 hours as well as seven days following your return. Workers may return to work prior to testing and results being returned if asymptomatic.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, report them to your employer and visit a no-appointment required drop-in testing site or call 1-855-354-4358 to be screened and booked for testing if required. 

Guidelines for the worker’s household

If members of your household travelled with you outside the Atlantic Bubble, they too must self-isolate for 14 days. If members of your household did not travel with you, they must monitor for symptoms. If anyone in the household develops symptoms, they should visit a no-appointment required drop-in testing site or call 811.

Please note: there is NO self-isolation exemption for health care workers who travel outside of the province for personal/recreational travel outside of the Atlantic bubble. Employees who do travel for personal/recreational reasons outside of the Atlantic bubble 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

If I am required to travel outside of PEI for Health PEI work purposes am I required to self-isolate when I return?

Essential workers who travel for work but are residents of PEI can be divided into 2 groups:

  1. Essential workers travelling frequently off Island for work within Canada and the U.S. and are home in PEI for less than 14 days 
  2. Essential workers travelling off Island for work within Canada and the US and home in PEI for more than 14 days

Group 1
PEI residents who are essential workers and travel out-of-province frequently (home less than 14 days between work periods) can be tested weekly (no more than every 7 days) for COVID-19. The first time you are tested you will be required to self-isolate while waiting for your test results (approximately 48 hours).  If the test is negative you no longer have to self-isolate when at home. You will be required to be tested again if you are still in the province at day 7. This exemption depends on being tested weekly/when you re-enter the province (if away longer than a week). 

Group 2
PEI residents who are essential workers and travel out-of-province for work but are home more than 14 days between work periods can be tested on arrival and self-isolate until results are back from the first test. If the test is negative they can come off self-isolation. They should also be tested 7 days later. This testing process should be followed upon each entry into the province. 

Please minimize your contacts while waiting for your results and keep track of those you are in contact with in case your test is positive.

This does not pertain to Long-Term Care staff; they must isolate for 14 days.

I am a health care worker coming to PEI to work from outside of Canada

You are required to self-isolate for 14 days before starting work. 

I am a health care worker coming to PEI to work from outside the Atlantic bubble

Health care workers who are coming from one of the provinces outside of the Atlantic bubble must be tested prior to working. They are required to self-isolate for 14 days when not at work. 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. 

I am a health care worker who works in a health care facility in my home province coming to PEI to work from within the Atlantic bubble

You must be tested prior to working. You are not required to self-isolate.

If someone in my household has returned from travel either internationally or from another Canadian province/territory, am I required to self–isolate or can I report for work?

The health care worker does not need to self-isolate and can report to work while awaiting the test results. If the test results for the person who travelled come back positive, the health care worker must stay home and self-isolate and follow direction from Public Health for testing and contact tracing.

Where can I find information regarding access to COVID-19 testing for health care workers?

Should you develop symptoms related to COVID-19, please visit a no-appointment required drop-in testing site or call 1-855-354-4358 to be screened and booked for an appointment to be tested, if required. Please notify your manager of when you are being tested as well as immediately following receiving your results. 

I have tested positive for COVID-19, when can I return to work?

Any health care worker who has been identified to self-isolate and receives a positive test result for COVID-19 is required to have two (2) negative tests results in a 24 hour period before they can be cleared to return to work. Health care workers should continue to follow any isolation advice provided by Public Health and keep their managers and/or supervisors updated as to their status.

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 HR Manager.

I am symptomatic (cough, chills, etc…), do I have to self-isolate?  Do I have to use sick, paid leave or unpaid leave?

If an employee is symptomatic with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and the employee is advised to self-isolate, the employee is required to self-isolate until tested. During this time, the employee will be on sick leave until such time as test results are confirmed. 

  • If you are symptomatic with exposure criteria (history of travel or close contact) you will self-isolate for 14 days from the date of the test, regardless of whether a negative test result is received in that period.
  • 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. 

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 CPHO, all health care workers have a professional obligation to comply with testing requirements.

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 health care worker becomes symptomatic they are to visit a no-appointment required testing site or contact 1-855-354-4358 for screening and instruction. 

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. Please discuss this option with your manager and/or 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 no-appointment required drop-in 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. 

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 and/or supervisor immediately as to changes in your status.

For detailed information related to specific circumstances, 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 testing, 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.

What if I don’t have sick time?

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. Find more information at servicecanada.ca 

For more detailed information, please contact your human resources manager for guidance.

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 OH&S 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 no-appointment required drop-in testing site or call 1-855-354-4358.  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 about my colleagues who are not practicing physical distancing in the workplace? What do I do?

Health care workers are not always able to practice physical distancing when working with patients/residents. However, where the option exists, all employees should be practicing physical distancing. 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.

My manager has suggested telework may be an option for me. What does this mean?

Where operational needs require/permit, managers / supervisors may consider “working from home” for some employees.   

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;
  • the employee cannot be redeployed to another work area but can contribute from home;
  • or 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 counselling from home, education / training, closing files etc.

Employees who work from home must have the required capability to do so (ie. 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 work site may be eligible for travel reimbursement based on the respective Collective Agreement and/or Treasury Board Policy, Article 17.06 (iis.peigov.).

Are staff allowed to work in two or more work locations during the pandemic?

A Public Health Order was issued June 25, 2020. While this order does ease some of the previous restrictions between public health care facilities and private nursing care homes, we will continue to operate with no staff movement between Long-Term Care homes (public and private) as well as no staff movement between Long-Term Care and other Health PEI sites. However, staff can move from non-Long-Term Care homes in Health PEI (i.e. acute care, primary care, etc) and private Long-Term Care. 

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 or other health care facilities.

How will we know if the situation changes?

Updated information, including information for health care providers, will be posted regularly to the website princeedwardisland.ca/covid19. Information is also available by calling the Public Health at 1-800-958-6400.

Updates to this FAQ will be posted to the Health PEI Staff Resource Centre and can be found at https://src.healthpei.ca. Hard copies will be posted on the OH&S bulletin boards in each work site for those without access to email.

Health PEI is also committed to sharing regular updates to all members of the organization through at least twice weekly reports from the Joint Operations Team. Additional reports will be distributed as required when significant changes occur. Managers are asked to post these updates for those without email.

Questions regarding benefits, leave, and work requirements should be directed to your human resources manager.

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 eap@gov.pe.ca



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.
 

Published date: 
September 8, 2020