New vaccine policy step in the right direction, says hospital chief of staff

Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia. 9 September 2020. (BlackburnNews.com photo by Colin Gowdy)

Bluewater Health will implement COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for all staff, professional staff, volunteers, students, and contractors September 7.

Chief of Staff Dr. Mike Haddad said although the province’s recent announcement isn’t a strict mandate for health care workers to get vaccinated, it is a great step forward in providing more protection for hospital staff and patients.

“It’s not perfect but it’s [a step] in the right direction,” he said. “Our hope is still that we will get more staff and general population vaccinated to mitigate the impact of a fourth wave, that has started.”

Haddad said those who don’t provide proof of vaccination will undergo regular asymptomatic testing at least twice a week.

“We will provide the testing kits for home testing,” he said. “Also in addition to it, we will be conducting random PCR testing as well and our occupational health and safety department will monitor compliance.”

Dr. Michel Haddad, Chief of Professional Staff, Bluewater Health, Adjunct Professor, Western University. Submitted photo.

Dr. Michel Haddad, Chief of Professional Staff, Bluewater Health, Adjunct Professor, Western University. Submitted photo.

Ninety-four per cent of Bluewater Health staff have received at least one vaccine dose and 95 per cent of physicians are fully vaccinated.

“We’re hoping our staff will inch closer to the full 100 per cent given that we are working in a high-risk environment,” said Haddad.

In terms of patient vaccinations, the chief of staff said the hospital is discussing the possibility of disclosing whether or not patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have been vaccinated.

“One of the issues that we have is that we have to be careful with privacy issues given that the number of cases is very low now,” said Haddad. “Having said this, if we have more, it becomes a bit easier to do to protect patient’s privacy.”

In Ontario, 74 per cent of the eligible population (12 years of age and older) have been fully vaccinated against the virus.