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Talks avert job action as LHSC psychiatry service medical residents raise COVID-19 concerns

FILE.
FILE. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

Job action has been averted, at least temporarily, but a workplace safety dispute continues after an incident involving COVID-19 exposure at the London Health Sciences Centre’s Centralized Emergency Psychiatry Service at the Victoria Hospital campus.

LHSC confirmed to Global News on Monday afternoon that “LHSC and physician leadership has met with the CEPS residents,” that “there is currently no job action,” and that further meetings will take place later this week.

Read more: CAMH adds 3 coronavirus cases to its COVID-19 outbreak

“We will not be providing further comment while we work to address the concerns of the residents,” the emailed statement continued.

In an earlier email, LHSC also confirmed that those affected by the COVID-19 exposure “have been notified through our contact tracing process” and said “there is no further risk to staff and physicians, or patients.”

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According to the London Free Press, a group of CEPS residents from Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry said they were notified on Oct. 11 about an exposure in the program’s workroom at Victoria Hospital resulting in 10 people, including four residents, having to self-isolate.

The paper also reported that the residents described the workroom as an “occupational hazard” that makes physical distancing “impossible” with as many as 15 people in a space during handover that should only hold three during the pandemic.

Schulich would not confirm how many residents are self-isolating “due to privacy concerns” but did say that there are 41 residents who rotate through CEPS.

“Depending on timing, there could be two or three residents working per shift,” a representative said, adding that the school “fully supports its residents.”

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“Their learning experience and safety are top priorities for the School. Since being notified, the School has reviewed the working conditions in detail and has reached out to the Chief Resident to provide support through Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Learner Experience Office,” the representative said in an email.

Read more: 25% of Canadians say their mental health is worse than in 1st coronavirus wave: poll

“On Sunday, the School’s leadership also met with leadership at London Health Sciences Centre to discuss the matter and earlier (Monday), met with residents, the Department, Program and LHSC to work toward solutions.”

CEPS serves as an “access point for emergency psychiatric service for patients from London and Middlesex County” who are 18 or older.

The LHSC’s website states that the number of staff who’ve tested positive for COVID-10 remains at five or fewer. No information is provided in relation to how many staff members are in self-isolation.

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