Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Fraser Health are experiencing staffing challenges due to the current Omicron variant, seasonal illnesses, recent snow days and the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Health care workers have been on the front lines of care throughout the pandemic now for two years and are experiencing exhaustion and the same illness as the rest of the population. Sustaining full staffing continues to be a challenge across the region and makes it difficult to maintain the high levels of health care services in some rural communities, surgical capacity and specialized programs.
VCH and Fraser Health maintain comprehensive business continuity plans and continually monitor, evaluate and respond to staffing challenges, as appropriate. While there are no longer-term impacts to service delivery at this time, over the past several months, temporary measures have been adopted to address immediate requirements, as needed.
To date, VCH has had to postpone 154 non-urgent elective surgeries over the past month due to a reduction in operating rooms. Staffing impacts have also had a pronounced effect on rural and remote sites, as these facilities and programs frequently operate with smaller teams. Staffing challenges are similar for smaller teams offering specialized services.
Fraser Health has rescheduled 128 non-urgent elective surgeries in the last four weeks and changes to case mix that are shared weekly in the Provincial update. Fraser Health has seen a small number of home support visits rescheduled due to staffing challenges. We monitor daily, and make changes to adjust for the services required to minimize service disruptions to our patients and clients. While Fraser Health is seeing staffing challenges, we are able to manage.
COVID-19 vaccines are our best line of defense against the virus, including the Omicron variant, offering good protection from serious illness and hospitalization. By following provincial public health guidelines and getting vaccinated, the public is supporting the healthcare system and frontline staff who remain committed to delivering safe and quality care to those who need it.
VCH and Fraser Health testing sites continue to record a significant demand for COVID-19 testing services. To preserve testing capacity for those at higher risk of COVID-19 and for those who live or work in higher risk settings, testing is not required for those who have mild symptoms and are fully vaccinated. If sick, stay at home and away from others until you feel well enough to return to regular activities. Those with no symptoms of COVID-19 do not need a test.
VCH and Fraser Health deeply appreciate and commend the commitment of health care workers, who have been doing an exemplary job under extremely challenging conditions. Do not delay accessing urgent or emergency care, as needed and get to know your health care options to use your ER Wisely. Both health authorities also appreciate the patience, support and understanding of the public when accessing health care services, as teams that deliver these supports may be managing staffing challenges.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $4.1 billion in community, hospital and long-term care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. VCH also provides specialized care and services for people throughout B.C., and is the province's hub of health-care education and research.
Fraser Health is responsible for the delivery of hospital and community-based health services to over 1.9 million people in 20 diverse communities from Burnaby to Fraser Canyon on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish and Nlaka’pamux Nations.
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