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St. Joseph's Care Group

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Keeping Clients & Staff Safe Through Screening Technology

Staff at Screening Checkpoint Using Screening App
Staff at Screening
Checkpoint Using Screening App

Date: 2020-04-07

Healthcare organizations across Ontario have implemented screening for COVID-19 prior to entering their facilities to keep clients and staff safe and well.  At St. Joseph’s Care Group (SJCG), we knew that implementing the necessary screening would be a challenge.  “We have over 2, 200 staff who work at multiple sites across Thunder Bay including our hospital, long-term care homes, supported living apartment buildings, medium and high support housing, residential addictions treatment, withdrawal management and outpatient services,” said Tracy Buckler, SJCG’s President & CEO.  “We needed a solution that would be easy-to-use, quick to deploy and reliable.”

Using REDCap survey technology, SJCG’s Communications, Engagement & Client Relations team, together with SJCG’s Centre for Applied Health Research, led the development and rollout.  “A soft-launch at our long-term care homes allowed us to refine the smartphone-compatible tool with feedback from our staff.  The full rollout took place on Saturday, March 14, and in the first week of deployment, over 8,400 self-screenings were completed online,” noted Kim Callaghan, Director of Communications, Engagement & Client Relations.

Using a link, staff complete the survey immediately prior to reporting to work.  The questions asked and information collected serve both as a means of tracking screening, and as a decision tool providing staff with a ‘pass or fail’ screening outcome.  Staff who pass the screening receive a message (in green) that provides a date/time stamp and the employee name, indicating that they are cleared to enter the building.  This message is shown to the Screening Checkpoint along with the employee’s staff photo identification.  Should staff fail the screening, they receive a message (in red) instructing them to stay home and to contact Occupational Health & Wellness department for further instruction.

Erin Paul, Communications & Engagement Coordinator, developed the tool to work in a number of ways.  “Not only can staff self-screen: our Screening Checkpoint staff have a 'Visitor' version of the online tool. This is helpful to make sure we are asking the right questions. The information we collect is immediately fed into our database so that the most up-to-date reports are at our fingertips."  Should there be a risk of contact with COVID-19, SJCG will have a reliable source of all who attended our sites, as well as the contact information needed for notification.

Lina Johnson, Vice President Seniors’ Health, is proud of how the team, that was tasked to start screening in our long-term care homes within 24-hours, was able to rapidly create and implement an online tool that allowed for immediate access to data.  “Being able to use technology to screen and to have access in real-time to screening data has made us more efficient with the resources that we have on hand, and is critical for helping us plan for the ongoing delivery of care.”

The online tool is streamlining access for over 5,000 healthcare workers in Thunder Bay. Leveraging  shared IT infrastructure, SJCG was able to create a version of the staff self-screening tool that is now in use at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. It has also been further expanded to several health care providers in Northwestern Ontario with interest from across the province. “I am very proud of the work that was done by our team during such a challenging and stressful time in health care,” Buckler said. 

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