COVID-19 information for employees and volunteers

What employees need to know: Your digest

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What employees need to know

Your digest archives

Jun 18, 2021

We want to make it easy for employees to access the latest from Canadian Blood Services.  Every Tuesday and Friday, we will be bringing you important COVID-19 updates along with valuable information and inspiring stories about other parts of our operations.  

We know things are rapidly changing; please remember you can always reach out to communications@blood.ca with your questions and suggestions on how we can better help employees.  

Here is the latest.

TODAY – Our open board meeting begins at 12:30 (ET)

Canadian Blood Services’ Board of Directors is holding its next open meeting today, Friday June 18, 12:30–4:20 p.m. (ET). Like all our open board meetings, a portion of today’s agenda will be set aside to hear from stakeholders on a range of pre-submitted issues, from access to plasma-derived therapies to systemic racism. There will also be a live Q&A session with our CEO, Dr. Graham Sher and board chair, Mel Cappe.

During today’s meeting, Graham will also speak about Canadian Blood Services’ goal to remove the current waiting period for men who have sex with men who seek to donate blood, and to shift to sexual behaviour-based screening for all donors. To this end, we intend to make a submission to Health Canada, our regulator, by the end of 2021. Read more about the evolution of our eligibility criteria here.

You can access the full agenda for today’s open board meeting here and tune into the livestream at http://obm.blood.ca/en.

Wrapping up a week of inspiring stories of hope and thanks

This National Blood Donor Week (June 13 – 19, 2021), we celebrated blood donors and thanked them for their generosity and commitment to patients by sharing touching personal stories from grateful recipients and passionate donors. Donor care associate Nadine Remington thanked donors for the 100 blood and platelet transfusions that gave her the precious gift of more time with her mom. Cord blood donor Elaine O’Keefe shared how her journey to help patients took an unexpected detour. Edmond Chan became a donor champion and advocate as he cared for his wife, Christina, during her 17-year cancer battle.

While this past week was all about reflection and celebration, as we move into the summer months, we will once again be calling eligible blood donors to action to support lifesaving care for patients. This is because the need for blood products is expected to rise with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the country.

Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day

This June, we’ve been celebrating National Indigenous History Month by honouring the heritage, contributions and cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. Our celebrations have taken on a sombre tone, however, in the wake of the horrific discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the former site of a residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

This year, as we prepare to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, we are taking time to reflect on the history and lived realities of Indigenous peoples, including the devastating impact of residential schools. To contribute to our learning, we invited three Indigenous women connected to Canada’s Lifeline to share how their backgrounds shape their lives and their work, and why this National Indigenous Peoples Day is especially important to mark. Read more on blood.ca.

Question of the day: When is the next live town hall?

As provincial vaccination programs continue to make progress, we are planning and preparing our facilities for additional employees to start to return safely to our buildings across the country starting in September 2021 (subject to demand). Foundational to our planning for the future of our workplace is continuing to encourage flexible work arrangements for our teams where feasible and supporting staff whose roles require them to work on-site.

Our next town hall on Tuesday, August 10 will focus on the next stage of the pandemic, how our organization will adapt, how we will support employees in this new environment and what you can expect in the coming months.

As always, Graham and an expert panel will be available to answer your questions on this and other topics that are top of mind.

You can participate in the August 10 live town hall by clicking on the meeting link in your Outlook invite. You can also send your written or recorded (video or audio) questions in advance to communications@blood.ca with the subject line “TOWNHALL”.

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ICARE Values - Nominations are now open for the Living our Value awards

 

 

About your digest

This digest will highlight the latest policy and employee support measures, resources to help you manage our new reality and original content like articles and videos to remind us that what we do matters.  No access to email? No problem — all this information and more can be found on blood.ca/employees from any device, no login required.    

Click here to read past editions of your digest.    

Have questions? Check out blood.ca/employees or email us at communications@blood.ca

How to self-administer employee temperature checks
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“How to self-administer employee temperature checks”

 

 

 

 

Mandatory temperature checks for employees, volunteers and contractors have been implemented across all Canadian Blood Services facilities. Here are the steps you need to know to properly complete your employee temperature check.

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How to put on and remove your surgical mask
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"How to wear a mask"

 

 

 

 

Masks are mandatory for all employees and volunteers and contractors  working in donor centres, operational environments and in Canadian Blood Services administrative facilities.

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How to remove and discard your gloves
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How to remove your gloves

 

 

 

 

Gloves are mandatory for employees, volunteers and contractors who work in Canadian Blood Services collections environments. Knowing how to properly remove your gloves is essential to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our teams safe.

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Q&A: Stay informed

Wherever you go, friends, family, colleagues and the media are talking about COVID-19. As the situation evolves rapidly, so does our response. Please continue to check your COVID-19 employee portal as policies and procedures develop. 

Your feedback is incredibly valuable as it helps us better understand the areas we need to be looking at. If your question is not answered on this page, please contact us at communications@blood.ca so we can find an answer for you. 

 

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How do I access credible information on COVID-19?

With so much misinformation out there, it is important that you have access to trusted and credible sources of information. We recommend the following sources:  

If you have a question on COVID-19 that we have not answered, please contact us at communications@blood.ca.  

What is the process of returning to work after I have been ill?

Return to work after a COVID-19+ diagnosis

Any employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 will fall under the care and direction of local public health authorities, who will advise when the employee is safe to return to work. Please advise Employee Health Services, who will confirm the information with public health. Recovering employees may have COVID-like symptoms, such as a residual cough, which would normally restrict them from passing through the wellness checkpoint. Therefore, Employee Health Services will issue the employee a letter advising that they are safe to report to work and can pass through the wellness checkpoint. Employees should bring the EHS letter with them each time they report to work.

Return to work after COVID-like symptoms

Employees who have had COVID-like symptoms should only return to work following the applicable regional public health authority guidance. If the employee has residual symptoms that would normally restrict them from passing through the wellness checkpoint, a written declaration from their physician will need to be provided to Employee Health Services in order for a letter to be issued advising that they are safe to report to work and can pass through the wellness checkpoint. Employees should bring the EHS letter with them each time they report to work and may be required to wear a mask during their shift.

Employees with COVID-like symptoms due to another medical issue

Some employees may have COVID-like symptoms that are caused by another medical issue such as allergies or asthma. A declaration from their physician will need to be provided to Employee Health Services in order for a letter to be issued advising that they are safe to report to work and can pass through the wellness checkpoint. Employees should bring the letter with them each time they report to work and may be required to wear a mask during their shift.

If you have questions, please contact your Employee Health Services representative.

How will employees be informed if a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19?

Please visit the case management page on your COVID-19 employee portal for more information. 

What PPE and other safety measures are in place at Canadian Blood Services?

Please visit our wellness page on blood.ca and our PPE page on your COVID-19 employee portal for more information.

Is Canadian Blood Services authorizing employees to conduct personal or business travel?

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to advise against non-essential international travel and most provinces and territories are recommending against non-essential travel outside of the province or region.   

We are asking employees to do their part to keep our teams, donors and operations safe. Please follow federal and local public health guidance; and consider whether work or personal travel you would like to pursue is truly essential. Below is an overview of how Canadian Blood Services is handling travel requests:  

Business travel  

While domestic business travel is being assessed on a case-by-case basis through our essential travel approval process, at this time we will not be approving international business travel. This decision follows public health guidance and considers current restrictions by our corporate travel insurance partner related to COVID-19-related illnesses outside of Canada. If you have questions, please contact corporatecard@blood.ca.   

Personal travel  

The same advice from PHAC applies to international personal travel. It is important to remember that if you are considering personal travel outside of the country, that you check your personal travel insurance before leaving. Following the advice from public health, upon your return you must isolate for 14 days, monitor your symptoms and inform your manager/supervisor. If you are travelling outside of your province or region within Canada, please consult local public health guidance to determine if you should isolate and inform you manager.   

If you have to isolate when returning from personal travel and cannot work virtually, you will not qualify for COVID-19 financial leave measures such as quarantine leave.  

Is Canadian Blood Services providing COVID-related financial leave support to employees?

Yes.  

When the pandemic hit, we had to come together to determine how we as an organization could continue to support our teams as we adapted to meet the challenges associated with COVID-19. 

An overview of our COVID-19 related leave supports and eligibility criteria can be found on Connect. If you think you may need to utilize any of the leave options, we encourage you to speak with your manager to learn more. 

If you are a manager and you have questions, please reach out to your PCP business partner.

When will gyms be open at Canadian Blood Services facilities?

We know that employees across the country are frustrated that gyms at Canadian Blood Services continue to be closed.

Our organization is evaluating our processes to ensure we can continue to safeguard our teams, donors and operations.

The closure of gyms was recently reviewed by the COVID-19 Program, where a difficult decision was made to continue to keep our gyms closed across the country.

This decision was not taken lightly. We understand that physical activity is incredibly important to mental health —which is more important than ever. However, we could not in good conscious open these spaces and increase the risk of putting our teams’ safety in jeopardy.

Due to the fluid and shifting pandemic environment, we are taking a national approach to this decision:

  • Gyms at Canadian Blood Services are not set-up to sustain the risks associated with COVID-19.
  • Unlike commercial gyms, our infrastructure is not set-up to properly implement the rigorous restrictions required to keep our teams safe. The shared space does not have the ventilation of commercial gyms,  and physical distancing cannot be maintained, meaning only a few employees would be able to use the space per day.
  • Facilities do not have the capacity to ensure proper cleaning and appointment systems are in place.
  • In order to align with public health requirements which, vary across the country, most equipment in the gym space would need to be removed because it cannot be properly disinfected after each use. Meaning employees would not experience the full benefit of the space.

This decision will continue to be evaluated by the COVID-19 Program and updates will be provided to employees as they become available.

We recognize that physical activity is crucial for our mental health. We’ve extended our virtual fitness classes with Goodlife through the winter and are adding additional classes to ensure that employees — in particular our frontline teams — can access this important resource.

We also encourage our teams to take advantage of the other wellness resources available to them, including our employee assistance program (EAP) which includes free therapy sessions with a licensed professional, as well a wide array of video and written LifeSpeak resources available through your employee wellness portal on Connect.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need a break for physical exercise, we encourage employees to speak with their leaders to build physical activity, such as a break for a walk outside, into your workday.

As part of our ongoing evaluation on gyms, we welcome employees to provide us with their views. Please send them to communications@blood.ca with the subject line “GYMS.” These comments will be sent to the COVID-19 Program to help inform future decisions on the re-opening of gyms.

Our organization is committed to maintaining agility and flexibility on our approach to gyms as the COVID-19 environment shifts across the country. Our COVID-19 Program team will continue to assess and revisit decisions on gyms, and other related safety measures to protect our teams, donors and operations.

Are you worried about COVID-19 spreading through the use of fans or portable air conditioners? 

The use of portable fans and portable/directional air conditioner units at fixed donor centres and mobile events should be avoided as they may spread droplets further than 2 meters. 

If temperature concerns arise at our owned/leased sites, please contact Facilities Management to respond. 

If fans are determined to be absolutely required to maintain operations, please review the Guidelines on Use of Portable Fans and Air Conditioner Units

Q&A: Collections events

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What enhanced measures are in place in our donor centres to protect against the spread of COVID-19?

When a donor, employee or volunteer walks through our doors they can take comfort in knowing that we are taking proactive steps to limit the risk of infection.

Following the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and international blood operators, mandatory masks, enhanced cleaning and physical distancing measures and wellness screening checkpoints for all individuals are now in place to make sure individuals entering are healthy.

Our team is consistently monitoring and assessing whether additional measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of donors, employees and volunteers. Click here for an overview of the measures we have put in place. If you are working onsite, more detailed information, is available through the COVID-19 Practices & Processes at Donor Events document and the PPE page on your COVID-19 portal.

Are there guidelines available for visitors (ex: media; donor relations events) entering our collections environments?

Although casual tours or friends/family of donors are not allowed in our collections environments at this time, we recognize that some in-person publicity and recruitment events may need to proceed to help safeguard the blood supply. Please review our Guidelines for Visitors to Donor Centres when considering publicity or recruitment events at your location. 

Why are we allowing external vendors from out-of-province to enter our sites?

There are times when external vendors from out of province or region are required on site to maintain or repair equipment to limit disruptions to our critical operations. These individuals are essential workers who perform specialized work that isn’t available through local resources. 

Essential workers are required to follow all local and provincial requirements for interprovincial travel, are screened at our wellness checkpoints before entering our facilities and must follow all COVID-19 prevention and safety protocols. 

We continue to monitor and evaluate each situation and will make adjustments as necessary to ensure the safety of our employees, donors and operations. 

What changes are being make to post-donation refreshments in response to COVID-19?

To support our decision to implement mandatory masks for donors, we introduced a new system in our refreshment areas May 1, 2020.

To limit the risk of spreading the virus, donors will be asked to sit for five minutes in the refreshment area with their masks on after their donation to rest and to allow collections staff to monitor their wellbeing. After their rest period, they will be encouraged to grab a snack and refreshment to consume after they leave the donor centre. If a donor chooses not to spend time in the recovery area they would be offered a snack and refreshment to go. This measure is one of many we are taking to protect the safety employees, volunteers and donors.

FAQ

What if a donor is feeling faint during their donation and needs a sip of water?

Donor centre teams should continue to monitor and respond to donor reactions in line with existing practices. If a donor requires the removal of a mask to assist with breathing, needing water, or a cold compress — this would be should be administered as required.  In circumstances where an employee needs to assist a donor who must remove their mask, we recommend that the employee supplement their PPE with a face shield.

How will this new measure impact our volunteers?

Volunteers continue to be a vital part of the donation experience: Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, we have implemented several enhanced wellness measures and screening protocols to help protect everyone within our donor centre environment, including our dedicated volunteers. In our most recent enhanced wellness initiative, we have made face masks a mandatory requirement for everyone while within our centres.

Rest and relaxation in our hospitality areas will continue to be part of the post-donation process but we’re now asking donors to simply take only the refreshments they need and wait until they are outside our centres to consume them. Volunteers will be a key component in ensuring this message gets delivered to every donor in addition continue to monitor the donors on their overall experience and that they have picked up a snack and drink to enjoy after they have left our centres.

Are we telling donors to have water and food before they enter?

We are encouraging donors to eat something salty prior to their appointment and drink 500 mL of water to helps their blood volume and improve their donation experience.

Why are we providing infrared thermometers to employees and not donors?

Temperature checks are a longstanding requirement for blood donation. This practice is not a new COVID-19 mitigation measure, it is a policy that ensures individuals are healthy enough to donate blood. 

We are constantly reviewing our practices to ensure they are consistent with the latest science, government regulations and advice from public health. 

We began investigating alternative devices last year. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 there was a significant surge in demand as temperature screening and monitoring became important. The supply of these devices started to catch up with demand earlier this year.  

We are in the process of securing a contactless solution, but it will require an assessment of the technology available to ensure we are meeting operational needs as well as regulatory requirements. 

While this process is underway, we are confident that the safety mitigations in place such as disinfecting thermometers thoroughly between uses, mandatory surgical masks, physical distancing, wellness checkpoints, physical barriers and enhanced cleaning are appropriate to keep our teams and donors safe.

Are there guidelines for running a mobile clinic near the vicinity of a COVID-19 testing centre?

Yes. Please visit our guidelines for mobile clinics and COVID-19 testing sites for more information on COVID-19 testing in an adjacent site (e.g.-in a parking lot); and COVID-19 testing in the same building.

Can I reintroduce promotional items for donors in our collection events?

The introduction of new promotional items must be coordinated through either the Director Donor Acquisition Experience and Performance for national campaigns or the applicable Director, Donor Relations and Collections for local campaigns.

A log of approved promotional items and timing of the campaigns will be maintained by the COVID-19 Operations working group.

For more information on criteria that must be met before promotional items are reintroduced to the donor environment, visit our guidelines for promotional items and donation milestone pins.

I don’t feel comfortable taking public transit. Am I allowed to carpool into work?

We understand that some employees may feel safer carpooling to work with others than taking public transit. While we know that carpooling is necessary for some, we ask you to please recognize that there is a risk of having close contact with others outside of your own home per public health guidance.

If you need to carpool to get to work, or if your supervisor/manager asks you to carpool or use a taxi/rideshare while at work, we recommend the following for all people in the car:
Drivers and passengers should ensure that at least two-metre distancing is maintained whenever possible. In most cases, this will mean that a maximum of one passenger should ride with one driver.

Drivers and passengers should follow public health guidance and safety measures, including wearing a mask while inside the vehicle and practicing proper hand hygiene when entering and leaving the vehicle.

Employees are asked not to drive or ride to work if they are sick. Employees should continue to follow local public health guidance (including provincial/municipal restrictions on carpooling) to ensure your safety and limit the spread of COVID-19.

If you have further questions about safety and carpooling, please contact OHS or your local public health authority.

Are you worried about COVID-19 spreading through the use of fans or portable air conditioners? 

The use of portable fans and portable/directional air conditioner units at fixed donor centres and mobile events should be avoided as they may spread droplets further than 2 meters. 

If temperature concerns arise at our owned/leased sites, please contact Facilities Management to respond. 

If fans are determined to be absolutely required to maintain operations, please review the Guidelines on Use of Portable Fans and Air Conditioner Units