On March 29th, 2020, representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) traveled to St. Boniface Hospital to conduct a daylong training to help strengthen our ability to safely respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, 60 staff members attended the training, including clinicians, social workers, biomedical engineering technicians, and sanitation staff.
The WHO representatives began the day with a comprehensive presentation about the origins and epidemiology of COVID-19, current treatments, and best practices for mitigating the spread of infectious diseases in a low-resource setting. Best practices included crowd control measures and optimal patient flow through wards. Following the presentation and a question and answer period, the representatives walked our staff through the protocols for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE). The representatives also shared best practices for using and managing PPE, such as discarding PPE between patients to help curb the spread of infection. Several clinicians reported that they found this practical portion of the training to be extremely helpful, as proper use of PPE is crucial to keeping staff and patients safe.
Next, the representatives visited the hospital’s newly constructed COVID-19 Triage and Treatment Center. Build Health International began constructing the center in March 2020 to ensure the hospital can provide safe and dignified care to any patients with COVID-19 symptoms. The center will be ready to receive patients in early May. The representatives were impressed by the new facilities and suggested that the hospital appoint an individual to observe staff as they don and doff PPE. St. Boniface staff agreed to implement this suggestion, as it would help staff stay safe from contamination by ensuring PPE is used properly at all times.
Finally, the WHO representatives met with the hospital’s COVID-19 Task Force to offer advice on how St. Boniface Hospital could better support and manage its response during a pandemic. Dr. Compere, St. Boniface Hospital’s Medical Director and member of the task force, said that he found WHO’s guidance “very practical and enriching,” and that staff was “very satisfied with the methodology used” during the training. As staff continues to work around the clock to manage the pandemic and ensure all hospital services continue to operate normally, the team was thankful for WHO’s ongoing support during this global challenge. Leadership at Health Equity International/St. Boniface Hospital will continue to work closely with WHO throughout the pandemic to stay abreast of the latest testing and treatment protocols and to share our best practices from on the ground.