On-Call System

Policy

Category: General – Agency
Subject: On-Call System
Division: Human Resources and Corporate Services
Policy Number: CA.50.01.104
Effective Date: October 2, 2015

POLICY STATEMENT

This policy ensures that Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) will respond in a timely manner, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to reports of health hazards, communicable diseases, outbreaks, immediate response for rabies, adverse water quality results and other urgent public health emergencies, and/or urgent issues requiring consultation related to public health that occur after hours and on holidays.

The on-call system is in accordance with the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), Ontario Public Health Standards 2008 (OPHS), and the following OPHS Protocols:  Beach Management  Protocol (2008), Drinking Water Protocol (2008), Exposure of Emergency Service Workers to Infectious Diseases Protocol (2008), Food Safety Protocol (2013), Identification, Investigation and Management of Health Hazards Protocol (2008), Infection Prevention and Control Practices Complaint Protocol (2008), Institutional/Facility Outbreak Prevention and Control Protocol (2008), Public Health Emergency Preparedness Protocol (2008), Rabies Prevention and Control Protocol (2013), Recreational Water Protocol (2008), Risk Assessment and Inspection of Facilities Protocol (2008), Infectious Disease Protocol (2013).

SCOPE

All WDGPH management and employees who are assigned the duty of providing 24/7 on-call response to public health emergencies will follow this policy.

The following positions will be on-call:  Directors (Community Health and Wellness, Family Health and Health Analytics, and Health Protection); Managers (Emergency Planning and Health and Safety Officer, Reproductive Health, Child Health and Oral Health, HBHC and Preschool Speech and Language, Health Analytics and Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, School Health, Clinical Services, Health Protection and Control of Infectious Diseases); Public Health Inspectors (PHI) from the General Program; staff from the Control of Infectious Diseases Program; and staff from Information Technology.

 

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Corresponding Procedure: CA.50.02.104 On-Call System

CONTACT FOR INQUIRIES

Director, Health Protection 

APPROVED BY

Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services 

 


Procedure

Category: General – Agency
Subject: On-Call System
Division: Human Resources and Corporate Services
Procedure Number: CA.50.02.104

PROCEDURE

Goals:

  1. To receive and assess surveillance information, reports of disease, health hazards or risks to public health in a timely way.
     
  2. To provide timely, quality information and response advice with in order to manage health hazards and implement control measures to prevent or reduce exposure to health hazards and/or disease.

General:

1. Employees who provide on-call response to public health emergencies may need the following materials, equipment and software:

  • Computer with encryption;
  • Blackberry, password protected;
  • Word processing and data management software with appropriate security features;
  • Access to the Internet for research purposes, and documentation (iphis); and
  • Access as appropriate to the security procedures and related information regarding facilities.

2. On-call kits for Managers are maintained by program and corporate leads and communicated appropriately. The on-call schedules (Managers/Directors, CID, and General Program PHI’s) will be developed and maintained in such a way so that a Nurse or Nurse Manager is on-call each week. Any schedule changes or switches between Managers or between employees, must take this into consideration in order for the switch to be approved.

Notification Process:

1. All after-hour emergency calls are forwarded directly to the answering service, who will call the General Program Public Health Inspector (GP-PHI) on-call until 11:00 p.m. The GP-PHI will then determine if the call should be forwarded to on-call CID employee, the Manager/Director or manage the call themselves.

2. The Medical Officer of Health (MOH) will be contacted by the on-call Manager as necessary, to receive urgent information or provide direction. 

Calls to the GP-PHI (as per rotation):

Types of Calls:

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Environmental lab results – follow-up and contact employees as required once results are obtained from lab;
  • Adverse water quality report;
  • Chemical spill;
  • Fire in a food or health care establishment;
  • Animal bite exposures;
  • Rabies vaccine release;
  • General health hazards (environmental), suspect food-borne illness (non-lab confirmed); and
  • Any call that is not an after-hours emergency call (refer to Telehealth, local Emergency department, after-hours clinic or consult with the on-call Manager).

Calls to the On-Call Manager

  • Emergency situation under police investigation with public health impact e.g. CBRN;
  • Vaccine fridge alarms (back-up for normal process);
  • Security alarm activated at WDGPH office(s);
  • Emergency situations with potential health or environmental impacts e.g. gas release, chemical exposures or sewage spills, Municipalities notifying of a declared emergency; and
  • Client complaints.

RESPONSIBILITY:

Medical Officer of Health/CEO (MOH) or designate will:

  • Ensure alternate MOH coverage for vacations, illness or absence is maintained and communicated to on-call group;
  • Advise on-call management and employees of changes to contact information as required;
  • Ensure availability for scheduled time assigned with a verbal response time of 30 minutes, and a response time to required location as required, to fill duties under legislation; and
  • Provide advice and direction to on-call employees on urgent public health matters.

Senior Management will:

  • Ensure that this policy is implemented; and
  • Ensure the on-call management and employees are assigned through an on-call schedule, maintained by assigned Program Assistant and coordinated by the Program Manager.

On-Call Directors, Managers and Supervisors will:

  • Ensure availability for scheduled time assigned with a verbal response time of 30 minutes and a two-hour site response time to their closest office;
  • Find and report replacement coverage as needed if coverage cannot be maintained; if replacement coverage is needed during on-call shift, notify Director, on-call employees and answering service of change; ensure communication devices are functional and charged;
  • Ensure on-call manual is up-to-date and maintained;
  • Be aware of any current situations in the WDGPH area through briefing with previous on-call Manager/Director and incoming PHN/PHI;
  • Respond to calls regarding reports of alarm activation in WDGPH facilities, declarations of emergency in a community, and calls from PHN/PHI’s as required;
  • Apprise MOH of any unexpected/unusual events such as report of a community emergency, or events that may solicit media attention; and
  • Be prepared to activate and implement the Agency Emergency Fan-out to deploy employees as required.  A fan-out mechanism is in place (see On-Call Manual under Guidance Documents).

On-Call General Program Public Health Inspector (GP-PHI) will:

  • Ensure they have received orientation to the on-call duties, responsibilities and guidance documents;
  • Ensure availability for scheduled time assigned with a verbal response time of 30 minutes and a two-hour site response time to their closest office;
  • Find and report replacement PHI as needed if coverage cannot be maintained; if replacement coverage is needed during on-call shift, notify Health Protection Manager and Manager on-call;  
  • Ensure communication devices are functional and charged;
  • Receive and triage all calls from the call answer service;
  • Respond to calls regarding threats to public drinking water supplies, suspected or confirmed contamination of a food source or supply, illness suspected or confirmed in association with food source or supply, health hazards, animal bite and suspect rabies reports; activities as assigned by a Manager or Director;
  • Respond to requests for after hours Rabies Immune Globulin and vaccine delivery;
  • Apprise Manager or Director on-call of any unexpected/unusual events such as report of a sudden death where communicable disease may be a contributing factor, or events that may solicit media attention;
  • Follow corporate documentation policy CA.50.01.101 and procedure CA.50.02.101 Documentation Practices and program guidelines; and
  • Report workload issues to the Manager on-call.

On-Call CID Employees will:

  • Ensure they have received orientation to the on call duties, responsibilities and guidance documents;
  • Ensure availability for scheduled time assigned with a verbal response time of 15 minutes, and a two-hour site response time to their closest office;
  • Find and report a replacement as needed if coverage cannot be maintained.  In the case of a personal emergency the CID employees will notify the CID Manager and Manager on-call that they are unable to complete the on-call shift due to a personal emergency;
  • Ensure communication devices are functional and charged;
  • Respond to calls regarding reports of communicable or infectious disease from physicians, clinics, hospitals, long-term care and retirement facilities, schools and other organizations; case of tuberculosis (TB), and blood borne exposure(s); activities as assigned by a Manager or Director;
  • Apprise Manager or Director on-call of any unexpected/unusual events such as report of a sudden death where communicable disease may be a contributing factor, or events that may solicit media attention;
  • Follow corporate documentation policy CA.50.01.101 and procedure CA.50.02.101 Documentation Practices and program guidelines; and
  • Report workload issues to the Manager on-call.

Information Technology (IT) will:

  • Ensure all programs and materials are available and functioning; and
  • Investigate and correct IT concerns over the weekend to ensure consistent program flow. 

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Corresponding Policy CA.50.01.104 On-Call System
CA.50.01.101 and CA.50.02.101 Documentation Practices

CONTACT FOR INQUIRIES

Director, Health Protection

APPROVED BY

Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services