Employee Health Services maintain a healthy work environment despite challenges

Safety first. This saying guides the work of our Employee Health Services (EHS) team of five professionals. They have the overall responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy work environment here at the Hospital for our 1,500 staff and 300 physicians and midwives. EHS helps employees in a myriad of ways, including assisting staff who need to modify their work, following up on injuries occurring at work, immunizations tracking, exposure follow-up, conducting N95 Respirator Fit testing and employee support and wellness programs.

Guidelines from Ontario Health and Public Health Ontario changed rapidly at the beginning of the pandemic. This created challenges around the best practices for managing staff travel, self-isolation, testing, symptoms, self-monitoring, staff screening and return to work planning. In the last few months, EHS has followed up with over 600 staff regarding the COVID pandemic, often in consultation with our Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) staff and our local Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit.

EHS also faced the huge hurdle of medical clearances for 90 new staff hired in response to the pandemic. All new hires are required to have up-to-date immunizations. EHS was able to set up a clinic in-house for all new hires to attend to have a speedy and safe process for medical clearance.

Our EHS Occupational Health and Safety Officer took a crucial leading role as part of our Incident Management System (IMS) which is formed during extraordinary challenges to coordinate the establishment of goals, set priorities and assign resources. She worked with teams to understand and respond to personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and ensure any PPE donated by the community met medical-grade standards. She also revised policies and procedures regarding the use of PPE (such as masks, gloves and face shields), cleaning products and sanitizer.

Alongside the pandemic response, EHS continued to operate and maintain their standard work related to safety concerns and employee health and wellness. COVID-19 has emphasized just how crucial it is to maintain a safe work environment.

This story originated on Guelph General Hospital’s Facebook page on July 21st, 2020 as part of its #behindthemask series to share how the Hospital is working hard to protect patients and visitors from #COVID19.