Canadian Blood Services (CBS) improves protocols for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at its donation facilities after a group of unionized employees asked to receive masks and gloves while on the job . The move comes as health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are increasingly vocal about their concerns about the shortage of protective equipment.
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CBS announced the decision in a public message on its website, with a spokesperson for the organization saying the move also required the purchase of more PPE.
“We have taken steps to increase our PPE protocols, including the availability of gloves and masks. We have a good supply of surgical masks and gloves that we are distributing to our donor centers over the next few weeks, “Delphine Denis, CBS media relations manager, told iPolitics on Thursday.
“We buy additional PPE supplies, like many others in the health field in Canada and around the world.”
A union group representing almost a fifth of all CBS workers issued a statement a few days earlier criticizing the Canadian Blood Agency for failing to provide employees of its blood clinics with the same protective equipment as workers. Healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic are wearing it. when treating COVID-19 patients.
“It is irresponsible. Not only does CBS ignore our requests for personal protective equipment (PPE) to the bare minimum, but it actively prevents our members from taking reasonable measures to protect themselves, “said the president of the Union of Public Employees Ontario (OPSEU), Warren Thomas, in a press release Monday.
Seven hundred CBS employees are members of OPSEU. CBS has more than 4,000 employees, according to publications on its website. iPolitics asked CBS on Thursday if the union’s other unionized workers had requested the use of PPE, but still hadn’t heard from the blood agency several hours after midday Friday expired. .
OPSEU said on Monday that it demanded that all members who work for CBS be given masks and gloves, and that it asked for plexiglass barriers to be installed in clinics and for the screening process COVID-19 of the organization includes the verification of the temperature of the donors.
CBS said on its website that it had tightened security measures for staff at its donor centers on Tuesday. He makes surgical masks available to front-line staff and implements a glove policy for clinic staff.
CBS has also increased its cleaning protocols to increase the frequency of disinfection of high contact equipment at its sites; reorganization of clinics to allow the recommended physical distance between staff and donors; and reduced or eliminated certain practices that could have resulted in contact between people in their facilities. The blood agency also indicates that it plans to install physical barriers in centers whose provisions do not allow easy monitoring of physical distance guidelines.
To discourage people who may have COVID-19 from visiting its clinics, CBS has also stopped walk-in blood donation and introduced screening disqualifiers for people who may have been in contact with the virus.
People and their loved ones are not allowed to donate blood for 14 days if:
- They tested positive for COVID-19
- They developed a fever and cough after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.
- They developed fever and cough within 14 days of traveling outside of Canada
- They developed a fever and cough after being in contact with someone who traveled outside of Canada
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CBS does not say on its website that its selection process includes taking donor temperatures.
“Right now, we’re exploring all the options available to make sure our staff and donors feel safe. We will communicate new measures as we develop, ”said an article on the CBS website that was updated on Wednesday.
With its screening measures to remove anyone suspected of being ill from COVID-19, CBS’s PPE protocols are extended beyond what Health Ontario considers necessary. Front-line health workers in facilities such as clinics and hospitals, where people are treated for illnesses and complications, and for COVID-19, do not need surgical masks and gloves to treat all patients, according to guidelines updated last week. They are required to wear surgical masks and gloves when treating any patient suspected of having or having COVID-19, which includes during the test.
As the global demand for medical equipment has increased, Canadian health agencies have launched a race against their counterparts around the world to acquire PPE to treat COVID-19 patients and slow the spread of the disease. could get worse if it goes wild in the health care system.
Although Canadian governments have promised to spend billions of dollars on PPE, private entities have contributed by donating their own stocks and agreements have been reached between the federal government and manufacturers to address the shortage, workers frontline workers continue to face limited supplies.
Last week, Ontario health workers were told to “immediately secure” their supply of surgical masks, on par with how they would keep drugs out of reach.
In a survey of almost 5,000 physicians in Canada on Monday and Tuesday, only one in three (34%) said they had enough gloves to last more than 10 days, while one in five (20 %) said they had enough surgical masks to last them the same time. The survey included doctors who work in hospitals and in their own offices.
In a recent survey of approximately 1,900 Ontario doctors, 72% said they had less than five days of surgical masks.
In its latest recommended PPE protocols, Health Ontario stated that a “thoughtful, risk-based approach to mask allocation is recommended.
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“It is recognized that at all times this will result in different masking protocols between organizations in all sectors of health care,” said the provincial health agency.