Thousands of community providers stand ready to vaccinate vulnerable populations
The priority for government right now is to get vaccinations out as effectively and efficiently as possible. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) and three of the largest home care providers in the province – SE Health, VON, Bayshore HealthCare – are calling on the government to get the COVID-19 vaccinations into the hands of community providers including nurses, physicians and pharmacists, immediately. By making immediate use of existing community care providers and their existing infrastructure, we can rapidly accelerate the rate of vaccination across the province. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Every year, thousands of nurses, physicians and pharmacists provide routine vaccinations through public health and established networks including primary care, pharmacies and home care. For example, home care nurses vaccinate vulnerable populations who are homebound or in congregate settings, such as shelters, as part of their regular job. These community-based infrastructures and their health-care professionals using practiced and perfected distribution systems for vaccination – must be put to work immediately to deliver what is urgently needed – COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The current approach to vaccine roll-out has been painfully slow and is delaying a life-saving shot for those who need it most, including long-term care residents and homebound frail seniors who cannot or ought not travel to access care,” says Dr. Doris Grinspun, CEO of RNAO. Going forward, Grinspun adds, “RNAO wants to see existing community resources such as primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, registered practical nurses and pharmacists being fully utilized to get the broader population inoculated by end of July, without drawing away the already overwhelmed hospital resources. For example, nurses working in home care could be vaccinating the patients they visit, as well as vulnerable populations they serve every year during the flu season.”
“We can do this. With our competent nurses and a distribution network already set up, we are ready to go,” says Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of SE Health. “If we were given access to the vaccine today, our nurses would be vaccinating seniors in their homes tomorrow. It’s that simple.”
The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out cannot overlook the opportunity for vaccine distribution in community care sectors that already serve vulnerable populations. In home care alone, hundreds of thousands of homebound clients and frontline health-care professionals could be vaccinated rapidly using existing systems and practices. Vaccinating family caregivers at the same time would allow for an efficient roll out of vaccines for a very significant portion of the population using existing visits and infrastructure.
The COVID-19 vaccine, in concert with public health measures, represents our best opportunity to defeat COVID-19 and end its devastating impact. We urge the government to leverage opportunities already existing in community care for rapid vaccine roll-out to those at greatest risk, 24x7.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Media contact: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, at 647-406-5605 (cell), 416-599-1925 (ext. 209), or mzych@RNAO.ca.
SE Health is a not-for-profit social enterprise applying knowledge, vision and drive to forever impact how people live and age at home, today and into the future. With Canadian roots and 110 years of expertise, the organization brings quality excellence and innovation to home care, seniors’ lifestyle, and family caregiving. Through its team of 9,000 Leaders of Impact, SE Health delivers 20,000 care exchanges daily, totaling 50 million in the last decade alone. Visit us online at sehc.com. Media contact: Madonna Gallo, Head of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VON is a highly trusted home and community health care charity providing innovative clinical, personal and social support to people who want the comfort and peace of mind of living in their own homes and communities. As the founder of home care in Canada, VON delivers health, wellness and end-of life support to more than 10,000 people in Ontario and Nova Scotia every day. Our 6,400 employees and 6,200 volunteers help Canadians stay healthy, live well and remain active. We support those in frail and failing health. And, together with our clients and their families, we contribute to the health and improved quality of life of Canadians in their homes and communities, where they want to be. VON is accredited with Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada. Media contact: email@example.com, or 1-888-866-7510.
Bayshore HealthCare is one of the country's leading providers of home and community health care services and is a Canadian-owned company. With over 100 locations across the country, including 65 home care offices, 13 pharmacies and 81 community care clinics, Bayshore has more than 13,500 staff members and provides care to over 350,000 clients annually. Its services are purchased by government care programs, insurance companies, workers' compensation boards, health care organizations, the corporate sector and the public. The Bayshore brand extends across four business divisions: Bayshore Home Health (medical and non-medical home care and staffing services), Bayshore Home Care Solutions (home care services for government care programs), Bayshore Specialty Rx (specialty pharmacy, infusion and pharmaceutical patient support services), and CAREpath (health care navigation program with focus on oncology and chronic disease management). The company's goal is to enhance the quality of life, well-being, dignity and independence of Canadians of all ages. In 2017, Bayshore HealthCare launched the Bayshore Foundation for Empowered Living to assist those living with illness, injury or aging reclaim or maintain their independence. As a national charity, we support local charities that provide the tools, programs and services needed to empower these individuals. Bayshore HealthCare has been a recipient of Canada's Best Managed Companies award since 2006. Media Contact: Janet Daglish, Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.