By Cole Parkinson
Alta Newspaper Group – Taber
While volunteer week is currently underway in Canada, COVID-19 has put a damper on celebrating those who so generously donate their time.
With Alberta Health Services one of the front line organizations during the pandemic who rely on volunteers, some of their programming has understandably been put on hold during this crisis.
As of March 17, all AHS volunteers programs in facilities, in community and in home care environments were suspended.
“This framework is designed to provide guidelines for the utilization of volunteers to support health services during the COVID-19 response. Implementation of this framework is dependent on service needs and may differ depending on the facility. These decisions will be made in collaboration with Volunteer Resources staff and the appropriate Site Command post,” reads an update from the AHS website.
The suspending of programs includes all direct and indirect patient care programs e.g. patient visitation, entertainment groups, all pet therapy/visitation programs, all ancillary revenue-generating operations, including gift shops, hair salons, bookshops and cafés and external vendors as booked through Volunteer Resources.
Volunteers have also been directed not to come to any facilities unless specifically requested by Volunteer Resources.
While the suspension of volunteer programs has been deemed necessary, AHS also identified other initiatives that may require volunteer support including Meals on Wheels, virtual support of isolated patients at home and in facilities and virtual consultation with patient/family advisors as just a few.
“Where there are initiatives that require volunteer support, Volunteer Resources at the direction of the appropriate Site Command Post will reach out to appropriate registered volunteers,” continued the update.
Appropriately registered volunteers are registered nurses who have indicated an interest in supporting AHS and registered volunteers between the ages of 19 and 64.
Registered volunteers will also have screening criteria and must not have returned from travel outside of Canada within the past 14 days, have not had contact with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, have not had laboratory exposure to biological material known to contain COVID-19 and are not currently experiencing any symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.