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COVID-19 and Emerging Respiratory Viruses

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) 

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Workplace Health

Physician Occupational Safety and Health (POSH)

The Physician Occupational Safety and Health (POSH) service was set up to help keep physicians safe and healthy throughout this crisis. POSH works closely with Public Health, as well as with Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC), and Employee Safety, Health and Wellness (ESHW). POSH started with Vancouver Acute physicians, and has now been expanded to include all of VCH.  

POSH is staffed by physicians specializing in Public Health, Occupational Medicine, and Family Practice, assisted by senior medical students.

POSH confidentially:

  • Answers questions physicians have about protective measures, exposures, symptoms, rationale for approaches, or anything else related to their wellbeing
  • Follows up physicians who incur possibly inadequately protected close contact with a COVID+ patient or staff member, including symptom monitoring;
  • Communicates with physicians who are tested for COVID-19 to inquire about the nature of the exposure if known and the symptoms that ensued, and provide advice for their own health and that of others.

POSH is also monitoring occupational exposures to ascertain how well physicians are able to practice proper procedures, so as to help determine further needs for PPE, training, fit-testing or other guidance at individual, departmental or regional levels.  Symptoms are also monitored to ensure that physicians are getting the advice and care they need to protect their own health and that of others.

POSH has produced some information sheets and will continue to summarize new evidence relevant specifically to protecting healthcare workers.

POSH operates from 8 am to 8 pm Monday-Saturday. Send an email to POSH.COVID@UBC.CA and POSH will get back to you promptly.

What mask to wear when caring for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19

POSH - COVID-19 Phase 1 Data

POSH - 6 Key things You Told Us

Guidance for N95 Respirator Use & Fit-Testing Medical Staff

Guidance for N95 Respirator Fit-Testing Residents

Recommended samples types for COVID-19 testing are:

NEW - February 4, 2020: Ongoing testing data evaluation by the VCH Medical Microbiology laboratory has demonstrated that the yield of trachieal aspirates and NP swab for COVID-19 testing in patients at VCH is similar. As such, the following steps are now recommended with regards to COVID-19 testing in intubated patients and patients with tracheostomy tubes:

  • Please collect an NP swab for COVID-19 testing if clinically indicated.
  • Please refrain from routinely collective both a tracheal aspirate and a NP swab for COVID-19 testing.
  • Collect a tracheal aspirate only if clinically indicated.
For any inquiries, do not hesitate to contact the Medical Microbiologist on call at 604-875-5000.

Facility Entrance Poster

Breakroom and Locker room Posters


Routine Practices for environmental infection control, including VCH-approved products for cleaning and disinfection, are effective and recommended for enveloped viruses such as COVID-19.   In addition to infection control strategies that include early identification and source control with Droplet & Contact Precautions, Routine Practices that support using appropriate hand hygiene and personal protective equipment following a point of care risk assessment, respiratory etiquette, patient placement, waste management and cleaning and disinfection further prevent transmission of COVID-19. 

VCH Environmental Audit Tool

Patient Care Equipment

  • Dedicate all reusable equipment to patients on Droplet and Contact precautions for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 whenever possible. Items that cannot be dedicated must be discarded/sent home with the patient or cleaned and disinfected with a VCH-approved product prior to use with another patient.  
  • Patient care equipment includes any item that will come into direct contact with the patient or their immediate environment, e.g., equipment and supplies, toys, books/magazines, electronic devices (tablets), and personal belongings. Refer to the VCH Master Equipment Cleaning Manual for specific direction.   
  • Single-use disposable equipment & supplies should be discarded after use. 

Environmental Cleaning

  • VCH routine cleaning procedures for Droplet & Contact Precautions are recommended for daily and terminal cleaning of patient care areas with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
  • VCH routine environmental cleaning procedures include twice daily cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces in emergency departments for the duration of influenza season.
  • Environmental Cleaning on COVID-19 Cohort Units

Handling Linen, Dishes and Cutlery

  • No special precautions are recommended; routine practices are sufficient.
  • Disposable dishes are not required.  Regular food trays, dishes and utensils can be used for all patients on Additional Precautions.   
  • Handle soiled linen with minimal agitation and place directly in linen bag without sorting.  Do not overfill bags. 

Waste Management

  • No special precautions are recommended; routine practices are sufficient.
  • Wear gloves to remove waste from patient/treatment rooms.   Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.
  • Dispose of sharps immediately after use in a puncture-proof, biohazard container.
  • Segregate biomedical waste per VCH policy. 

Patients/residents admitted to a VCH facility with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should be restricted to their room and not participate in group activities until COVID-19 is ruled out or as directed by IPAC.

Patient/resident movement and transport should be restricted to essential diagnostic tests and therapeutic treatments. Transfer within and between facilities should be avoided unless medically indicated, as this may place others at risk for exposure.  

If transfer is medically indicated:

  • Notify Infection Prevention and Control and the receiving unit/department
  • Provide clean clothes/gown/bedding on leaving their room  
  • Assist patient/resident with donning a medical mask and performing hand hygiene on leaving their room
  • Designate a staff member to accompany patient/resident
    • Accompanying staff member should use Droplet and Contact Precautions when in patient room, then remove personal protective equipment (PPE) on exit from the room and perform hand hygiene. Don clean PPE for transport.

 Adapted from PHAC (2020) Infection prevention and control for coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Interim guidance for acute healthcare settings

Vaccination Clinics
All Community

NOTE:  For practice alerts/updates, including emergency procedures for community settings during COVID-19 pandemic, please go to VCH practice alerts and updates

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Community Settings - Poster

Home Support
Marginalized Populations (including housing, homelessness, and substance use)
Recovery Resources:

Pandemic Planning 

SOURCE: COVID-19 and Emerging Respiratory Viruses ( )
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