Island Health has sent a memo to its staff asking for people to voluntarily come back from their scheduled leave, or they may have to mandate workers to return in order to address staffing shortages.
CHEK News was sent a copy of the memo, which was written by Dr. Elin Bjarnason, vice president of clinical operations, South Island and Krista Allan, vice president of knowledge, practice and
Chief Nurse Executive.
The memo notes that this period of the year tends to have staffing shortages due to people wanting to take holidays, but this year there is an added challenge with the Omicron variant causing high levels of illness in the community and staff to ensure an adequate level of staffing.
The memo asks any clinical staff to voluntarily end their leave early to return to work, and if there aren’t enough staff to voluntarily return to work, they may have to move to mandatory call-backs.
This memo comes after a press conference where Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer provided an update on the COVID-19 situation, in which she noted this current wave is proving challenging to the healthcare system.
“We’re facing challenges and people being off work because of illness and that is stretching some systems it’s stretching some of our healthcare systems,” Henry said. “The illness that we’re seeing, particularly in healthcare workers, is starting to have impacts on our healthcare system.”
To try and limit the spread of the Omicron variant, new restrictions were put in place including restricting visitors in long-term care, changing the timeline for booster shots, and shortening the isolation period for fully vaccinated people.