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SJHH / Coronavirus/ Information for our staff physicians volunteers and learners/ HCW COVID Testing and Isolation

St. Joe's Healthcare Worker COVID-19 Testing and Isolation

We understand testing for COVID-19 and isolation can be complicated. We created the below frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help guide you to answers to any question you may have.

We ask everyone to continue to self-assess their health before coming to work. We expect healthcare workers to follow current guidelines; do not come into work if you're sick, book a COVID test, call the COVID hotline (ext. 36131) and notify your manager if COVID symptoms arise. 

FAQs

I have been exposed to someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 outside of my household. Can I work?

If you are symptomatic:
  • Call the COVID hotline – ext. 36131
  • Tell your manager
  • Get a PCR test as soon as possible, you can return to work if the PCR test is negative and you no longer have more than one mild symptom
  • If positive PCR, stay home for 10 days.
  • You can return to work if... *please refer to section, "When can I return to work?"
  • Symptoms could include: 
    • Fever and/or chills; OR
    • Cough; OR
    • Shortness of breath; OR
    • Decrease or loss of taste or smell; OR
    • runny nose/nasal congestion
    • headache
    • extreme fatigue
    • sore throat
    • muscle aches/joint pain
    • gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea/vomiting or diarrhea)
If you have no symptoms (asymptomatic), you can work, but you must follow these steps:
  • Call the COVID hotline – ext. 36131
  • Tell your manager.
  • You need to self-isolate at work for 5 days
  • You need to self-monitor for symptoms, including taking your temperature twice per day
  • You need to take a rapid antigen test daily for 10 days if constant exposure (until day 11).
  • Staff who cross over multiple units (spending 50% of their time), need to take a rapid antigen test twice per week post protocol.
  • You need to eat alone

I have been exposed to someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 inside my household. Can I work?

If you are symptomatic:
  • Call the COVID hotline – ext. 36131
  • Tell your manager
  • Get a PCR test as soon as possible
  • If positive PCR, stay home for 10 days.
  • You can return to work if... *please refer to section, "When can I return to work?"
  • You can return to work with lingering symptoms, which include mild congestion, mild cough, continued use of inhalers.
  • You need to remain off work and follow-up with your treating practitioner if you have any of the following: 
    • nausea, vomiting diarrhea
    • sore throat
    • fever
    • conjunctivitis
    • continued extreme fatigue and muscle aches
If you have no symptoms (asymptomatic), you can work, but you must follow these steps:
  • Call the COVID hotline – ext. 36131
  • Tell your manager
  • You need to self-isolate at work for 10 days 
  • Self-isolate at home/community for 5 days
  • You need to self-monitor for symptoms, including taking your temperature twice per day
  • You need to take a rapid antigen test daily for 7 days if you are isolated from the exposure at home. If constant exposure, you need to do a rapid antigen test daily for 10 days (until day 11)
  • You need to take a PCR test at the first day and day 5
If you work on an outbreak or a high alert unit:

    Regular testing of staff working on the outbreak unit is required as outlined below:

  • Rapid testing prior to their shifts for a period of 10 days (outbreak unit) and 7 days (high alert unit). Staff who have tested positive in the last 30 days are not required to do RAT testing
  • If any RAT test is positive or they develop symptoms they must isolate and call the COVID Hotline and obtain a COVID NPS.
  • Rapid Testing can be decreased to 2 days per week after the 10-day mark
What are the common symptoms of COVID that may require self-isolation?
  • fever
  • temperature of 37.8 (or greater)
  • cough, new or worsening
  • shortness of breath
  • decrease or loss of smell or taste
  • two or more of these symptoms require immediate self-isolation: 
    • extreme fatigue
    • lethargy or malaise - unusual or unexplained
    • muscle aches or joint pain - unusual, unexplained or long lasting
    • nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
    • sore throat
    • nasal congestion
    • headache
  • other signs and symptoms that should be monitored include:
    • abdominal pain
    • conjunctivitis
    • decrease or loss of appetite
What does it mean to self-isolate at work?
  • Wear a mask or a respirator and use PPE as guided by PCRA (Point of Care Risk Assessment)
  • Monitor your symptoms, including your temperature 2 times per day
  • Daily rapid antigen test
  • Maintain physical distancing
  • Eat by yourself (not with other people)
When can I return to work?

If you are asymptomatic.

Asymptomatic means no fever and other symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if vomiting/diarrhea). Please note: remaining symptoms can be lingering cough, mild congestion, and/or use of inhalers.

The HCW will be able to return to work starting Day 7 if Asymptomatic.
                                 AND
A. HCW received confirmation of clearance from COVID Hotline Ext. 36131 or covid19@stjosham.on.ca for return to work;
                                AND
B. HCW must follow work self-isolation guidance until Day 11.
                                  AND
C. The return to work(Day 7-10) is not applicable in immunocompromised setting (Renal Transplant, Chest, Head and Neck and Maternal/Child Unit).

If the HCW does not meet the above criteria then the HCW will return to work for routine operations on DAY 11 when Asymptomatic

(Return after 10 days after symptom onset/specimen collection (whichever comes first)
(For calculation- Day 11 is counted with Day Zero (0) being the first day of symptoms or first positive test, whichever comes first).

If unable to return on the prescribed date, please contact your manager. 

Someone in my household is self-isolating because of contact with someone with COVID-19 . Can I work?
  • Yes, you can work
  • Monitor for symptoms for 10 days
  • Wear proper protective equipment (PPE) as guided by PCRA (Point of Care Risk Assessment), physical distance
  • If symptoms develop, call the COVID hotline for guidance – ext. 36131
Do I need to do a rapid antigen test?
  • As directed by COVID Hotline or IPAC
I have had a positive rapid antigen test, what do I do?
  • Do not come into work
  • Call the COVID hotline – ext. 36131
  • Tell your manager
  • Arrange for a PCR test as soon as possible at the following HCW testing location:
  • Staff member to self-isolate until PCR results are received.
When would I require a PCR test?
  • As a healthcare worker, please get a PCR test if you are symptomatic or have a positive rapid antigen test
  • If advised through the COVID hotline or through contact tracing
Where do I get a PCR test?

St. Joe's West 5th COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre
100 West 5th St., Hamilton Ontario
Medical Outpatient Clinic, Level 0 (accessible via the door beside the Outpatient Entrance facing Fennell Avenue)

  • Eligible SJHH healthcare workers and household members can walk-in to the St. Joe's West 5th COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre. Click here for more info on PCR eligibility. 
  • Household members do not need to be accompanied by the healthcare worker, but must show a photo of the healthcare worker’s ID badge.
  • You also have the option to book an appointments [LINK]
Where can I pick-up/drop off an oral/nasal swab?

Oral/ nasal swab pick-up & drop off

If swabbing after-hours, please keep the swab on the unit until the next morning when the drop-off location opens.  

Pick-Up:

  • Charlton / West 5th Campus – All patient units and Occupational Health & Safety Offices (open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. 7 days per week)
  • King Campus – Urgent Care, Dialysis and Security

Drop-Off:

  • Charlton:
    • Bed Allocation (Room D172), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • King:  
    • Urgent Care Centre 0800 – 2200
  • West 5th:  
  • Pre-op Clinic Level 0, Monday – Friday 0730 – 1300,
  • Units Waterfall 1, 2, and 3, after hours/Saturday/Sunday and holidays
I am unvaccinated and have been in contact with someone with COVID-19
  • Please call COVID Hotline Ext 36131 for further direction.
RAT screening for Outbreak and High Alert Units

Unless directed otherwise by IPAC, HCWs working on units in outbreak and high alert should do daily Rapid Antigen Testing for 10 days prior to each shift until day 11, then 2 times per week (revised from 3 times per week). HCWs who spend more than 50% of their time in outbreak/high alert unit must do daily Rapid Antigen Testing for 10 days prior to each shift until day 11, then 2 times per week. In addition, staff who are undergoing the Contact Tracing protocol should continue as instructed by Occupational Health and Safety.

Click here for a FAQ.

Click here to watch a demo on how to take a BNTX rapid antigen test

Click here to read all of this information on the COVID-19 Testing and Isolation webpage.

If you have any questions, please contact Occupational Health and Safety or call the COVID hotline (ext. 36131).