New principles guarantee Saskatchewan health-care workers access to appropriate PPE

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Health-care workers in Saskatchewan who work around people who could — or do — have COVID-19 are now guaranteed access to certain personal protective equipment (PPE).

It’s an agreement between the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Health Authory and the five unions representing the province’s health-care workers.

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It lays out a series of shared health and safety principles for dealing with anyone suspected, presumed or confirmed to have COVID-19.

At minimum, all health-care workers must wear “droplet/contact plus precautions” such as gowns, face shields or gloves, and surgical masks.

If they’re required to work within two metres of suspected, presumptive or confirmed cases, they also have access to N95 respirators along with those previously mentioned pieces of PPE.

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“That means that when Joe Public comes into the facility they’re going to be safe,” said Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses.

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“It means that if you’re coming and you’re being tested and you don’t have it and everybody has the proper personal protective equipment on, the transmission that you could get from somebody won’t happen.”

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Unions representing nurses and other health-care professionals previously voiced concerns about getting the appropriation personal protective gear and other resources as some health services reopened May 19.

Zambory says these principals are “the difference between catching COVID-19 and not.”

Along with PPE, the principles also state a risk assessment must be done before every interaction with a patient, client or resident.

If a health-care worker reasonably thinks health and safety measures are necessary they worker can access the “appropriate” PPE, which could vary by situation.

The full list of principles can be found here.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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