CEO & Chief MHO Joint Update: May 21, 2020


We want to start our update this evening by thanking Cheryl Damstetter, Vice President – Priority Populations and Initiatives for her leadership and service with Island Health over the past decade, including supporting the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our health authority during COVID-19. Earlier today, it was announced Cheryl has chosen to leave Island Health to pursue other professional interests, effective July 9. We wish her well.

Work across our organization is well underway as we assess workspaces, applying provincial safety orders and guidelines provided through WorkSafeBC. For example, in Community Health Services (CHS) units, workplace safety assessments in offices will be completed by the end of the week and plans will be implemented to incorporate any necessary changes to keep staff and clients safe.

For our CHS teams, COVID-19 has resulted in a need to increase our services to support clients who were no longer able to access adult day programs and respite care, as well as higher-needs clients awaiting placement in long-term care homes. Our CHS teams were nimble and innovative, taking on services for people unable to access ambulatory care and providing outreach swabbing services for home-bound clients. CHS leaders worked to update pandemic plans to align with acute and ambulatory planning, and coordinated closely with assisted living and long-term care providers.

CHS teams continue to refine their operations and build out response plans based on learnings from the first wave of the pandemic. We want to thank our CHS teams for their continued dedication and innovation over the past months to provide high quality and safe care for our clients.


Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced 12 new COVID-19 confirmed cases across B.C. in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,479.

There are 43 people in hospital, with eight of them in intensive care, and 2,020 individuals who no longer have to practice isolation measures. Sadly, there were three more deaths in the Lower Mainland, for a total of 152 in the province, due to COVID-19.

At Island Health, there continues to be no changes over the past several days. We have had a total of 126 confirmed COVID-19 cases – our last new confirmed case was two weeks ago today, on May 7. One patient remains in hospital and not in critical care. We have 120 people who no longer have to practice self-isolation measures, as they are no longer at risk of transmitting the virus.

In her briefing today, Dr. Henry discussed an additional layer of protection to help limit the spread of COVID-19 – the use of non-medical masks by members of the public. Dr. Henry noted non-medical masks could be of benefit in situations where physical distancing may not be possible and we must be in close contact with others, such as for personal services, on public transit or in small retail services. She reminded British Columbians the most important measures to protect yourself and others continue to be to stay home if you are unwell, practice good hand hygiene and maintain physical distancing. We thank Dr. Henry for her steadfast commitment to ensuring the public has the information they require to make the best informed decisions throughout COVID-19.

You can read the news release and transcript here.  

Reminder: The COVID-19 survey: Your story, our future remains open until May 31 and will provide important data for public health as we continue to respond. Join the 290,000 people who have completed the survey to date.

KUDOS TO THE Island health call centre

Today, we want to recognize the Island Health Call Centre, a virtual operation put in place to answer calls related to COVID-19 testing. This incredible team came together in early April and has responded to over 7,700 calls to date in a calm and collaborative manner. Please take a minute to read more about this amazing team here. If you know someone who is working in this area please take the opportunity to thank them for their important work. It matters greatly.


To end our message today, we want to point you to a story about Ruby Kim from Parksville. Ruby’s mom Jillian is a public health nurse and she made this hat in appreciation of all nurses.

In the words of Dr. Chris Hall, “Ruby, you have just become such an important member of our health care team. Psychological support for everyone is so vital. Thank you for your amazing contribution!”

Thank you Ruby and Jillian! And thank you to Dr. Hall and everyone else who took the time to share their appreciation for the efforts by Ruby and Jillian.

Our deepest appreciation,


~ Kathy and Richard


Stay informed:

  • Visit Island Health's ‘source of truth,’ COVID-19 webpage on the Intranet.
  • The Medical Staff website has specific information for medical staff.
  • Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC have resources here.
  • We are also posting information for the public at and through our social media channels. We encourage you to follow/retweet/share BCCDC’s and Island Health’s posts.