CEO Update: July 11, 2020


On Friday, two new individuals with lab confirmed COVID-19 were announced for Island Health. The new cases include one returning international traveler with the other linked to a previously announced lab-confirmed COVID-19 case. This brings our total Island Health active cases to four people, all of whom are self-isolating at home. I want to thank our public health teams for their robust testing and contract tracing programs which allow us to catch new cases early, before they have the opportunity to spread significantly. These new cases remind us again of the importance to following the public health guidance provided by Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Richard Stanwick. Our individual actions make a difference and we must continue to practice all the behaviours we learned through the pandemic.

I want to thank Dr. Stanwick for leading last week’s updates, providing deeper insight to our public health pandemic response. Generally this update comes from both myself and Dr. Stanwick, but today it is just from me. I want to let you know I have asked Victoria Schmid, VP Pandemic Planning to co-lead the end of day COVID-19 updates with Dr. Stanwick starting next week. Victoria and Dr. Stanwick will provide you the information you require as we continue our pandemic plan and response. Over the rest of the summer planned updates will be sent out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and of course, any ‘need to know’ information will be shared with you whenever necessary. Timeliness and transparency will continue to guide our communications approach. I thank Victoria and Dr. Stanwick for their commitment to continuing our regular COVID-19 communication with you.

Island Health’s focus is on supporting the pandemic response while continuing to advance our organizational strategy. My priority today, and going forward, will be supporting the ongoing transition of the organization as we learn to operate in the COVID-19 environment – our new normal. As our VP Pandemic Planning lead, Victoria Schmid will help guide our organization as we evolve how we provide health and care, learning and adapting, as we move through COVID-19 in our ecosystem. Victoria and Dr. Stanwick will partner with colleagues in other health authorities and the Ministry of Health, working as part of a successful integrated health system response led by Dr. Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix. I ask you to continue to step into this important work as you have, and to partner with Victoria and her team as we move forward.

It has been my privilege to share important information you need to know, along with my thoughts and appreciation in these end of day messages for the past few months. Your feedback has been informative and inspiring. Thank you for always sharing with me what matters to you.

As a closing thought, I want to remind all of us the importance of being mindful – recognizing the stress our patients, clients, residents and their families experience during this pandemic. We also must recognize the stress each member of the Island Health family may experience as well – as care providers and as members of families and communities themselves. When times are challenging I reflect on our organization’s values, especially the values of respect and empathy. If you are under stress or in other challenging situations I invite you to reflect on these values. As a health and care organization, we need to ensure our interventions support the holistic needs of the individual. If we reflect on the values of respect and empathy as we deliver care, seeing ourselves through the lens of the individual receiving care, I am confident we will continue to advance ourselves towards our vision of excellent health and care for everyone, everywhere, every time.


Provincial update for July 10:

  • 25 people with newly confirmed COVID-19 for a total of 3,053 people.
  • One new deaths in the Lower Mainland. Total of 187 COVID-19 related deaths in B.C.
  • 16 people in hospital, with five in critical or intensive care.
  • 187 people with active COVID-19 in B.C.
  • 2,679 people have recovered and are no longer at risk of transmitting the virus.

Island Health Update:

  • Two new individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 across Island Health for a total  of 135 cases, 4 active cases self-isolating at home and 5 deaths

More information:

Please note: joint statements and transcripts of media availabilities with Dr. Henry and Minister Dix are posted as soon as they are available on our COVID-19 Intranet site in the What’s New section.

BCCDC Website Updates/Changes


Quietly working behind the scenes, many teams have pivoted their work to support COVID-19 including a cross functional team from ten different departments who formed the Human Resources Planning Unit. Performing a critical function within our Incident Command Structure, this unit has ensured we have the staff and medical staff resources required to support our response. Throughout the pandemic, they have worked closely with operational work streams and monitored data modelling to predict surge scenarios – all to ensure we have the staff and rotations to meet the needs of our communities. 

Very early in our response the Talent Acquisition team quickly established a new rapid recruitment and onboarding system to support the changing work environment. We saw newly created positions such as Patient Ambassadors introduced sites, and the expansion of public health and other positions as we opened screening and assessment and call centres. In a 3 ½ month period, close to 1,200 external applicants were hired and we had casual employees moving to either temporary or permanent positions. This is an increase in hiring of 50% (800 hires) from the same period last year. In this same time, this team fielded over 600 calls from people offering to assist, volunteer or request to be redeployed to support the response. Many former or retired health care workers also offered their services, which speaks to the incredible commitment of health care workers to support each other and their communities.

Current staff were asked to focus on new priorities, work in new ways and in some cases change locations. Some team members took on new roles to provide support to Emergency Operations Centres, supported colleagues as we worked through frequently updated requirements from BCCDC and the PHO related to PPE. Approximately 2,000 people transitioned from in-office environments to work from home. The development of a detailed HR FAQ guide was led by the HR Client Services team. Our HR Access call centre was expanded to provide 7 day a week coverage to clarify information and provide guidance to our employees. The goal was to ensure staff and medical staff were supported in a constant and ever changing environment and I am so thankful to these teams for their ongoing support.

Throughout the pandemic, this interdepartmental team has worked provincially, regionally and locally to support what is the most challenging health crisis we have ever dealt with as an organization. I want to thank the HR Planning Unit and their team members for their commitment, their support and their teamwork as a critical member of the Island Health family.

As our gracious, thoughtful, globally recognized, award-winning communicator Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reminds us – be calm, be kind, be safe.

~ Kathy

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