Supporting safe health-care at hospitals and clinics during COVID-19

As Island Health increases services levels at all of our health-care facilities, we are asking for the public’s help to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Safety is our top priority and practicing physical distancing, as well as frequent hand washing, are still the top ways to prevent transmission of the virus. 

Island Health is taking the following precautions at our hospitals and health clinics to keep our patients, staff and medical staff safe:

  • Continuing frequent cleaning and infection prevention measures in between clients, promoting hand-hygiene practices, and wearing personal protective equipment as recommended by Worksafe BC, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control 
  • Reconfiguring waiting areas and cafeterias to support physical distancing
  • Pre-screening clients to determine how best to support them safely during their appointments and triaging patients at risk for COVID-19; and
  • Acknowledging the unique experiences of Indigenous peoples and striving to support care settings that are culturally safe and free of racism, discrimination and stigma.

As our Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has noted, BC was able to flatten the curve of COVID-19 with help from people across the province who stepped up, made sacrifices to maintain physical distancing, and remained diligent about hand hygiene. 

Here are some things you can do to support safe service delivery at your hospital or health centre appointment:

  • If you have a pre-arranged appointment and wake up feeling unwell, let us know beforehand and we will arrange to care for you appropriately. Call your care provider or booking office.
  • Please plan to arrive on time for your appointment and maintain a physical distance of 2m/6ft from others.
  • Visitor restrictions remain in place at Island Health facilities. Ambassadors are stationed at hospital entrances to keep patients, staff and medical staff safe by limiting visitors, conducting mandatory screening before entry, and assisting with hand hygiene, mask protocols and wayfinding. There may be slight delays and we appreciate your patience.
  • We ask at this time that you do not accompany others inside to routine appointments. One person can accompany a child; a patient requiring assistance due to hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments; persons with disabilities, including those requiring emotional or decision-making support; someone who cannot self-advocate, or someone requiring translation assistance. A Cultural Safety advocate will also be supported.   
  • If you happen to arrive early by vehicle, please wait in your vehicle until 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment to prevent overcrowding in our waiting areas. Some departments may have other procedures – and those will be communicated to you when your appointment is confirmed. 
  • If you are driving someone to an appointment, please remain in the parking lot so you are nearby when your loved one is ready to be picked up.  
  • If possible, use the entrance closest to the service you are accessing to reduce traffic through the building and clean your hands upon arrival and departure. The province has suspended pay parking so there is no charge for parking at this time. 

We are thankful to the people who have avoided unnecessary trips to emergency departments. With that said, it is important that people who do require immediate care continue to seek it out. If you are experiencing symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or serious abdominal pain, we want you to reach out for help. Call 911 or come to an emergency department if you believe you have an emergency issue requiring care.

If you require non-emergency care, it is important you continue to work with your health care providers. Take advantage of the significant expansion of virtual care, talk to your primary care provider, contact an urgent and primary care centre or call 811 for advice. 

Thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation as we work hard to increase our service levels in a safe way.

Media inquiries:

Cheryl Bloxham