Nova Scotia boosts 811 staffing, virtual healthcare to fight spread of COVID-19
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's medical officer of health, provides an update on COVID-19 during a news conference in Halifax on March 24, 2020.
HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia government has announced a number of new measures aimed at strengthening the province’s healthcare system and limiting the spread of COVID-19.
The measures, announced Tuesday, include increased testing for COVID-19, expanding virtual care for healthcare workers, and boosting 811 resources.
Here is a breakdown of the new measures:
- The laboratory at the QEII Health Sciences Centre has doubled to accommodate increased testing for COVID-19.
- The lab can now test 400 people a day.
- Public Health officials have started testing all close contacts of positive cases.
- The province is expanding virtual care for physicians, nurse practitioners and other healthcare workers.
- This will allow them to offer appointments to patients via phone or video, minimizing the need to leave their homes.
- More than 80 providers have signed up for virtual care so far.
- The province has increased staff and technology, including the addition of 53 nurses and telehealth associates.
- The province is doubling 811’s phone banks to 138 lines.
- These changes have allowed 811 to answer double the number of calls to the service.
- 811 will double its capacity again on April 3.
Infection control at hospitals
- The province is enhancing infection control measures at hospitals to protect healthcare workers and the public.
- This includes reassigning and adding new staff in order to increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection.
- There will be a focus on high-risk areas, high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces.
- Stronger cleaning products will be used.
Regulated health professions
- Regulated health workers can stay open for emergency or urgent cases, or to provide virtual care.
- However, they must meet physical-distancing requirements in their waiting room or other non-clinical areas.
- They must follow cleaning protocols.
Non-regulated health professions
- The province says non-regulated professions, such as naturopaths, must close.
- One exception to this rule is podiatrists, who must follow the directive related to regulated health professions.
Access Nova Scotia
- Access Nova Scotia and Registry of Motor Vehicle offices will start to resume operations, but in a scaled-back, limited-contact business model.
- Staff working out of offices in Amherst, Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Kentville, Stellarton, Sydney and Yarmouth will be available to help people with urgent matters by calling 1-800-670-4357.
- The province has extended deadlines for more vehicle permits, registrations and renewals until Aug. 31.
- Drop-off boxes for applicable services will be available at Access Centres in Amherst, Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Kentville, Stellarton, Sydney and Yarmouth.
- Many services are also available online.
As of Tuesday, Nova Scotia was reporting 2,474 negative test results and 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19.