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Policy

Resident rights and responsibilities and support during a pandemic

Categories: Pandemic Resident PGME

Illness, Prevention and Support

1. Where to get up to date information in the H1NQ virus and pandemic
General information on the H1 N1 virus can be found at the Public Health Agency of Canada. The Occupational Health Offices at your training site will be good resources for local information. Additional information can also be located at the following sites:

Saskatchewan Government
Saskatoon Health Region
Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region 

2. Prevention
Ensure that the residents have made an informed choice about H1 N1 vaccination. Ensure that each resident has been properly fitted for a N95 mask and each resident must keep the mask fit card with her I him at all times. Contact the Occupational Health Office, site supervisor or Program Director if a resident does not have one, or if having difficulties being fitted for one.

If the residents know that they cannot be fitted properly due to religious/health reasons, they must contact the site supervisor/program director now to understand how this will affect their work and training.

3. What should the residents do if they get sick?
If a resident has the flu or any flu-like symptoms, she I he must STAY AT HOME. They must not go to work. It is helpful to have a thermometer, so that they can determine if they have a fever or not. Check the most common flu symptoms.

If the illness is severe, she/he can call the family doctor, go to the closest emergency department. If a resident gets sick at work and need advice, she/he can access the Occupational Health Office at the site, if applicable.

4. Who should be contacted if the residents become sick
Each program/site will have a system by which they expect the residents to notify the appropriate people if they are too ill to come to work, as exists for any other  illness. This will likely include the program administrator and/or designate and the clinical supervisor/chief resident/site administrator.

5. What should be kept at home?
It's a good idea to have the following items on hand in case the residents get sick: a thermometer, alcohol-based hand rub, tissues, microwaveable soups or other food, pain killers, and medical supplies (e.g., prescriptions).

6. What should the residents do if someone in their household becomes sick or they need to care for a family member who is ill?
They should take all of the usual precautions to avoid contact with the virus (hand washing and sanitizing, avoiding contact with surfaces and materials they touch, avoiding their coughs and sneezes). They can reduce the likelihood of getting the virus from household objects by not sharing linens, towels, eating utensils, dishes or toothbrushes with the sick person and avoiding contact with  any tissues or handkerchiefs they use. Stay 2 metres away from the person who  is ill as much as possible. It is best if that person sleeps in a bedroom by himself  or herself.

If a surgical mask is available, the person who is ill should wear it  when others are in the room. More information is available on www.fightflu.ca

7. What should the resident do if someone close to him/her becomes seriously ill or dies?
If someone close to a resident becomes seriously ill or dies, he /she should contact (e.g. email, telephone) the appropriate contact person to let him/her know if they are going to be absent to attend services or support the loved ones. If the residents feel they would like to have some additional support to deal with this experience, please refer to the list at the bottom of the page.

8. When can the residents return to work?
The flu may last from 4 - 7 days. The residents must stay away until they no longer have fever  (38°C) for 24 hours off anti-pyretics and are feeling well enough to manage their clinical load. The residents are doing no favours by bringing the virus into your workplace. Hospitals are developing back up plans to manage essential duties in the event of significant rates of ill health care providers.

9. How can the residents help colleagues who are sick?
Residents who are sick will probably be feeling quite isolated as they wait at home for the symptoms to subside and worried about teaching they are missing. It can be helpful just to maintain phone and/or email contact so they do not feel isolated.

Residents' rights and responsibilities during a pandemic

1. Workplace responsibilities
Residents have a dual status role of student and an employee as outlined in the PAIRS collective agreement. This means that during a declared pandemic and response phase, the residents will be needed to provide care.

The educational activities and objectives of the residents will come secondary to health workforce priorities and may therefore be adapted or postponed depending on the availability of faculty and residents to meet clinical staffing needs. The residents may be redeployed to the area of greatest need. The residents' 1NOrk will be determined by their competence and the assessment of risk decided by the clinical faculty or supervising clinician.

2. Pregnancy and pandemic
Pregnant women will be as much at risk at home and in the community as they are in the hospital so long as standard precautions are followed. The exception is that pregnant women should not be present at aerosol generating procedures (bronchoscopies). Each program will need to review their risks and adapt accordingly.

3. Teaching during pandemic
The goal of the University of Saskatchewan is to make every effort to continue the educational activities of residents with minimum disruption but will be dependent on workforce priorities. The status of your academics activities may vary by program and site. Residents should check with their site supervisor /coordinator or the program director's office for updates.

4. Exams, work permit and licensure
Every effort will be made to make adjustments to the program so that the residents graduate on time. In a pandemic, licensure, work permit expiration and extension procedures will be on emergency operation under prior agreement with government and licensing authorities.

5. Salary interruption during a pandemic
Salary, benefit, and stipend entitlement will continue during the pandemic but receipt of salary will depend on whether University payroll office is operational. Note that payroll operations are considered a critical function by the University and will get priority attention. Automated processes (i.e., monthly salary deposits) will almost certainly proceed as usual. People-dependent processing of additional payments (i.e. call stipends) may be delayed. For questions regarding salary contact Ms. Audrey Kincaid (966-5536 or for questions about your benefits, contact the PAIRS office by email or at 306-655-2134 or their website .

6. Vacation and Call schedules
During pandemic, every effort will me made to maintain call schedules and vacation entitlement according to the PAIRS contract provisions.

7. Travel
There are no restrictions on travel from the University of Saskatchewan at this time. This may change based upon updates from health agencies. If a resident is feeling ill at the time of travel, he/she should delay the travel plans until he I she is well again. For up-to-date information on travel tips and restrictions go to: www.fightflu.ca and click on Travel Information.

If travel can not be cancelled for anyone who has symptoms of illness, they should seek medical attention before boarding an airplane or other forms of public transportation. If someone becomes sick while at the airport, they should consult airport officials before boarding the airplane.

Resources available for support

In the event of a pandemic, the residents may feel overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty whether they are ill themselves or not. Residents of particular concern are those who do not have strong local social networks - those from outside Saskatoon and especially sponsored trainees from out of country. We are encouraging each program, through the individual sites, to develop their own tracking system to identify residents who are ill, or otherwise experiencing difficulty.

This document answers many of the anticipated priority questions about protecting residents' health, understanding the illness, and work obligations. If any resident is having difficulty managing fear, stress, or grief, the following supports are available:

1.     Personal family physician
2.     Saskatchewan Physician Support Program
3.     Employee Assistance Program of the University of Saskatchewan
4.     Employee assistance program of the Regional Health Authority

Communications: The College of Medicine recognizes the importance of keeping students, faculty and staff informed and updated with relevant information in a timely manner. This practice will become increasingly vital in the event of an influenza outbreak.

Students should be prepared to receive electronic status and information updates from the COM Dean's Office on an as­required basis leading up to and during any outbreak. Messages will be sent to your PAWS e­mail accounts (beginning with the tag line "H1 N1 Update") and will also be posted on MedlCS. Please be aware of the potential for several messages to be sent or posted in any given day, depending on the severity and fluidity of the situation.

Students should become accustomed to frequently checking their PAWS email accounts and/or MedlCS. Additionally, students should understand the potential for misinformation and rumors to be circulating in these types of circumstances.

Students are reminded that only communication items from the COM Dean's Office should be viewed as having bearing on their academic programming.


Other resources:

I. University of Saskatchewan
U of S Pandemic Influenza Planning
The University of Saskatchewan has a dedicated Pandemic Influenza Planning website with full information for students, employees and the public pertinent to the H1 N1 pandemic. Information included on this site include: H1 N1 status updates, FAQ, service updates, class schedule updates, fact sheets as well as other valuable information. www usask ca/pandemjc

II. Government of Saskatchewan
H1 N1 flu information
Up-to-date information from Saskatchewan Health regarding H1 N1.
Saskatchewan Health H1 N1 website

N95 respirators
Saskatchewan Health N95 respirator information sheet.

Ill. Public Health Agency of Canada
Latest national information regarding H1 N1

IV. Saskatchewan Medical Association
H1 N1 information for SMA members

V. Canadian Medical Association
H1 N1 information for CMA members


References:

1.    The CPSS draft document Physicians and Health Emergencies (obtained through Dr. Harding).
2.    SMA President's letter September 2009.
3.    University of Toronto policy I guidelines on residents and pandemic