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Covid-19 Update #54


Current situation

As of today, May 7, nine new cases of COVID-19 were identified, bringing Nova Scotia’s total to 1,007 confirmed cases. These cases range in age from under 10 to over 90. Five individuals are currently in hospital, two of those in ICU, and 708 individuals have recovered. There have been 32,289 negative test results. Testing numbers are updated daily at


The province is also reporting three additional deaths related to COVID-19 at Northwood long-term care home in Halifax Regional Municipality, bringing the total to 44.


Cases have been identified in all parts of the province. Read full news release. A map and graphic presentation of the case data is available at


Today, May 7, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to the federal top-up program which benefit health care staff. To support this, the provincial government has signed on to provide a cash bonus for those in the health-care sector supporting the COVID-19 response. The Essential Health Care Workers Program will see health-care workers receive a bonus of up to $2,000 after a four-month period, beginning March 13. It includes eligible employees at NSHA, IWK Health Centre and in long-term care, home care and in-home support and emergency health services. Employees who volunteered to be redeployed to work at a facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak will also receive this benefit. Read more.


Our response

Spiritual care resources for extraordinary times

NSHA spiritual care has provided a resource for areas and facilities where traditional services may not be available with contact information for local Nova Scotia spiritual resources. If you have spiritual care staff in your hospital, they are a good source of information and in-person support for patients and families. If your area does not have spiritual care staff, but is reliant on community-based clergy, you may not have access to the usual human and material resources. Use of phone, iPad, and other technology is strongly encouraged where possible to connect families and/or faith leaders. View document.


N95 respirators and FIT testing: If you have been FIT tested for alternative models please use them and not the 1870+

In mid-April, NSHA introduced an expanded FIT testing model for N95 respirators to ensure that staff who are working with COVID-suspect or confirmed cases and who may need to perform aerosol-generating procedures are FIT tested to a variety of N95 respirators.


We made this change to ensure that those staff and physicians who need N95s will be able to receive and start using their supply without delay. Many respirators are manufactured overseas. We’re well aware that global markets could shift and change; many countries are limiting exports. As a result, we launched an expanded FIT testing model to ensure staff are FIT tested to all procured models. In addition, we are adding to our stockpile of N95s to ensure we have the supply we need to enable our frontline workers to safely care for patients.


With ongoing consumption, our supply of 1870+ models has been reduced. These models will now only be provided to areas that have not undergone FIT testing on alternative models. 


Knowing that a significant number of health care workers have been FIT tested to this model, we expanded FIT testing to include 3M 1870 and 1860, 1860s and 8210 models, as well as Pleats Plus. If you have been FIT tested to an alternative N95 model, you must select and don an alternative N95.


Many high-consumption areas such as COVID units, Critical Care, Respiratory Therapy, Anesthesia, Emergency, Perioperative and Airway teams have completed alternative FIT testing. Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness will be working with leadership in other units/areas to coordinate alternative FIT testing. It is important that staff participate in these FIT testing sessions to ensure they are properly FIT tested to a variety of models as noted above.


We want to assure you that our supply of all PPE, including N95s, can meet our current needs and we are working to ensure our supply meets future demand. Your safety and protection are our priority.


For more information, view our frequently asked questions about N95 FIT testing. 


Staff and physicians at Cape Breton Regional Hospital featured in We Rise Again video project

Throughout COVID-19, we’ve seen many examples of people coming together and supporting each other and their communities. At Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Meaghan Grant-Bennett and Michelle Wheelhouse, medical social workers, looked for a way to acknowledge the fear and anxiety yet bring hope and optimism to co-workers, family, friends and neighbours. They reached out to various departments, units and services at the hospital to take part in the We Rise Again video project. The video features staff and physicians (and a special guest) singing “Rise Again,” composed by Leon Dubinsky and recorded by the iconic Rankin Family.  View video.


CORRECTION: Grocery program Loblaw PC Express priority order and pick up service

In Update #47 (April 28), we included an item on the Loblaw PC Express priority order and pick-up service. Unfortunately, this service is a pilot program that is currently only offered in Ontario and is not available in Nova Scotia. Our apologies for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused for people who registered for the service.


[PallCareManagerOnAStick] Innovation keeps palliative care staff connected in Eastern Zone

As teams across NSHA adjust to COVID-19, some new and innovative ideas are being born. The program manager and clinical nurse lead with the palliative care team in NSHA’s eastern zone, are using FaceTime to connect with staff in real time. 


“As many are working remotely, including myself, being able to connect with staff visually is important,” said Lynette Sawchuk, palliative care program manager. “Visibility and connection can decrease anxiety and increase team cohesiveness which certainly impacts our patients positively.”


On the An Cala palliative care unit at Cape Breton Regional Hospital, staff are being creative with where they place their phones while using FaceTime. Phones are mounted on the unit’s blood pressure machine so the manager can travel around the unit with staff. “It has now jokingly become the manager on a stick,” said Sawchuk.  “It’s so important to not just connect with staff, but to have a bit of fun. Everyone is working so hard in every environment - a smile is worth so much.”


New/Updated guidance documents and resources

COVID-19 Risk Assessment – All NSHA Patients (updated – May 7, 2020)

Memo – Community and Facility Clusters – May 1 (updated – May 7, 2020)

Community/Facility Cluster – Information for Health Care Providers (updated – May 7, 2020)

Community/Facility Cluster – Information for Registration Clerks (updated – May 7, 2020)

Prone Positioning for the COVID-19 Patient in Acute Care Patient Setting (updated – May 7, 2020)

Primary Assessment Centres Contact/Location Information (updated – May 7, 2020)

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine – Continuing Care – FAQs for In Home COVID-19 Swab Collections (new – May 7, 2020)

Laboratory and Pathology – FAQ for Continuing Care Sector (updated – May 7, 2020)

Use of CPAP or BiPAP Therapy in Long-Term Care (updated – May 7, 2020)

Code Blue Guiding Principles (updated – May 7, 2020)

Cancer and Coronavirus FAQ (new – May 7, 2020)

Mental Health and Addictions Outpatient COVID-19 Screening Guide (updated – May 7, 2020)

Clerical – Instructions for Face to Face Reminder Calls – Mental Health and Addictions (updated – May 7, 2020)

COVID-19 Primary Assessment Chart – Drive-thru Testing (updated – May 7, 2020)

Mental Health and Addictions Update (new – May 6, 2020)

Mental Health and Addictions Update – French (new – May 6, 2020)

COVID-19 Mental Health and Addictions Wellness Clinics Work Instructions – Western Zone (new – May 7, 2020)

COVID-19 Mental Health and Addictions Outpatient Withdrawal Management Clinics Work Instructions – Western Zone (new – May 7, 2020)

COVID-19 Assessment Chart – Primary Assessment Centre (updated – May 7, 2020)

Referral to Assessment Centres – Fax Sheet(updated – May 7, 2020)

COVID-19 Guidelines for Home Visits of Primary Care Providers in Family Practice and Chronic Disease Management and Wellness (new – May 7, 2020)

Memo – Online IPPL Orientation (new – May 7, 2020)

Principles for Student Learner Placements During COVID-19 Response (new – May 7, 2020)

IPPL Orientation Pathway During COVID-19(new – May 7, 2020)

COVID-19 Patient Instruction Sheet (updated – May 7, 2020)

Family Practice COVID-19 Screening Guide(updated – May 7, 2020)