page-up-arrow
page-down-arrow

Was this page useful?

*Required Field
Rating            

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. 

Click here to learn more about Rapid Antigen Testing for HCWs in Clinical Areas.

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
  • Stay home until you have a negative PCR test and no longer have more than one mild symptom
  • 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 10 days plus 5 days after last exposure, which day is later
  • 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 take a PCR test at the first day and day 7
  • 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 after 10 days
  • 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 plus 5 days after the last exposure, whichever is later
  • 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 7 
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?
  • Keep your personal protective equipment on at all times
  • 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?

After 10 days (day 11), you do not require a negative PCR or Rapid Antigen Test. You can return with lingering symptoms, which is mild cough, continued use of inhalers, mild congestion. 

You need to remain off work with the following symptoms:

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • conjunctivitis
  • continued extreme fatigue and muscle aches

We advise you should follow-up with your treating practitioner.

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), physical distance
  • If symptoms develop, call the COVID hotline for guidance – ext. 36131
What is low risk, medium risk and high risk?

High risk: Both COVID positive person and staff were unmasked and exposure for more than 2 minutes within 2 metres.

Medium risk: COVID positive person was unmasked but staff is masked without eye protection

Low risk: COVID positive person is masked and staff is masked

Do I need to do a rapid antigen test?
  • As directed if you’re a high, medium or low risk contact
  • If you have been with people, returning after days off, and want to make sure you're safe for your shift (asymptomatic).
  • You're feeling uneasy and want to screen for potential COVID-19 infection
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 one of the following HCW testing locations:
  • Employees must go for a second PCR in 24 hours
  • If there are 2 negative PCRs, the employee can return to work
  • 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 Mountain COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre on Upper James Street:
1565 Upper James Street, Hamilton Ontario
(former Future Shop location near Ryckman’s Corners, behind Boston Pizza and TD Canada Trust on the east side of Upper James)

  • Eligible SJHH healthcare workers and household members can walk-in to the St. Joe's Mountain COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre on Upper James Street. 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 - For asymptomatic high-risk exposure 

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
  • If you are determined to be high risk or medium risk – you must self-isolate for 10 days, returning day 11 if no symptoms have developed, or be symptom free for 72 hours.
  • Low risk are able to stay at work if they remain asymptomatic, monitoring for symptoms and following Public health guidelines of PPE, physical distancing.

Rapid Antigen Testing for HCWs in Clinical Areas

Last Updated February 10, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

On January 19, all HCWs and contractors, who work in clinical areas or enter clinical areas, were asked to complete voluntary RATs twice per week.

After reviewing local epidemiology, St. Joe’s Infection Prevention and Control and Occupational Health and Safety teams recommend that due to decreasing transmission both at the hospital and in Hamilton, this measure will end on February 13.

The exception to this is for HCWs who need to complete a RAT for contact tracing purposes, however those who wish to continue twice/weekly RATs are welcome to do so. Find out where you can get a RAT kit below.

Reminder: If your RAT is positive, do not come into work and arrange for a PCR test as soon as possible. Two negative PCR tests (at least 24 hours apart) are required to return to work. More details below.

Where to get the kits:
  • Staff and health professionals: Distributed via unit manager
  • Physicians and Learners: click here for distribution information at each site.
How it works
  1. HCWs now can bring RAT kits home and test twice weekly if they wish to do so, 12 hours prior to their shift, with a maximum of 4 days between each test.
  2. HCWs can test 12 hours or so before their shift so staffing can be adjusted should the RAT be positive.
  3. After the HCW picks up their RAT kits, they can begin testing before their next shift.
  4. For those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days, please do not complete the RAT screening as you may continue to test positive weeks after clearing the infection.
  5. There is no requirement to upload tests results for this testing.
  6. If the RAT is positive:
  • Do not come into work
  • Call the COVID hotline – ext. 36131
  • Tell your manager
  • Arrange for a PCR test as soon as possible at one of the following HCW testing locations:
  • Fontbonne Clinic at stjoes.ca/fontbonneclinic
  • Mountain Assessment Clinic or West End Clinic at www.hamiltoncovidtest.ca
  • Staff member to self-isolate until PCR results are received.

7. If RAT and PCR are positive:

  • Inform manager immediately and call COVID hotline
  • For both symptomatic and asymptomatic, if RAT is positive and the first PCR is negative, the PCR should be repeated in 24 hours. Two negative PCRs are required to return to work following a positive RAT.
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).