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PICNet Newsletter – October 2023

Infection Prevention and Control Resources for Upcoming Respiratory Illness Season

PICNet and the BC Ministry of Health have co-led the development of viral respiratory illness (VRI) resources through the Provincial COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control/Workplace Health and Safety Working group, in collaboration with health authority representatives and other partners. These resources cover a range of viral respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This transition aligns with the following announcement and changes:

COVID-19-specific information is being removed from the BCCDC COVID-19 Infection Control webpage and updated VRI guidelines can be accessed on the Respiratory Illness webpage, posters can be accessed on the Infection Control Posters webpage, and personal protective equipment resources (PPE) can be accessed on the PPE webpage. If queries arise, please direct them to a representative on the provincial working group or PICNet.


National Infection Control Week

October 16-20 is recognized in Canada and the U.S. as National Infection Control Week. Infection prevention and control (IPC) professionals take this opportunity to educate and promote IPC activities for health care workers, patients, families and visitors across the continuum of care. The COVID-19 pandemic and emergence of other pathogens (e.g., pathogenic avian influenza, Candida auris, mpox, viral hemorrhagic fevers) has highlighted the importance of IPC and the important work that IPC professionals and health care workers do in keeping everyone safe.

The following resources are provided to assist you in planning and promoting national infection control week:


CPO/C. auris Symposium

PICNet hosted a symposium on Carbapenamese-Producing Organisms (CPO) and Candida auris (C. auris) on July 27, 2023 in Vancouver. The in-person symposium brought together 48 attendees from Vancouver Coastal, Providence, PHSA, Fraser, Interior, Northern, and Island health authorities, as well as the Ministry of Health, BCCDC, LifeLabs and PICNet. Attendees included infection prevention and control (IPC) professionals, medical microbiologists, and public health partners. Partner engagement allowed for an inclusive discussion surrounding the update and enhancement of the Provincial CPO/C. auris surveillance protocol.

Following the day, participants and invitees have received meeting notes, presentations recordings, and a link to an evaluation survey. Based on discussion at the CPO/C.auris Symposium, PICNet is editing the surveillance protocol and will disseminate the revised version to our key partners (i.e. Symposium invitees/attendees) for final endorsement in a few weeks. Remaining actions from the day will first be tabled at the PICNet’s surveillance working group and then packaged and presented for discussion with provincial IPC leadership partners.


PICNet Internal Viral Respiratory Illness (VRI) Surveillance Dashboard

PICNet is preparing to launch an internal VRI dashboard for acute care facilities in BC for the 2023/24 respiratory season, accessible by our health authority partners.

Due to data access considerations, we will initially share emergency department (ED) indicators

  • Beginning with the number and percent of pediatric ED visits that had presenting complaints for cough or fever
  • Followed by the number and percent of adult ED visits that had presenting complaints for cough, fever or shortness of breath

When data access permits, we will move forward with defining

  • The number of unique symptomatic patients visiting ED with a positive VRI test
  • Followed later by indicators related to hospitalizations & ICU admissions

In order to maintain methodological consistency, the PICNet surveillance team has been working with BCCDC’s Data and Analytic Services to define VRI indicators. While the BCCDC’s VRI surveillance initiative is from the public health perspective and health authority of residence, PICNet’s focus is from the facility perspective, providing data stratified by age, health authority, and facility where the patient presented.


Public Health Agency of Canada Survey

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is conducting a survey to better understand the roles that long term care non-regulated healthcare workers play in infection prevention and control.

By answering this survey, you help PHAC to be aware of the needs and challenges of support workers across Canada. Your voice matters! If you are a non-regulated healthcare worker (personal support worker, continuing care aide, health care aid, support worker, or other similar profession) working in a Canadian long term care home or retirement home, make your voice heard here. The survey will be open until October 15th.


PICNet Team Welcome Announcement

PICNet is excited to welcome Dr. Samar Hejazi to the team in the role of Lead, Research and Knowledge Translation. Samar holds a Masters as well as a PhD in Nursing. Prior to joining PICNet, Samar served as a Research and Implementation Scientist and an Epidemiologist within the Department of Evaluation & Research Services, Fraser Health Authority where she was involved in building research capacity and providing support and workshops for research in clinical, health services and population health fields. She is also member of the UBC Clinical Ethics Research Board and is responsible for ensuring that studies adhere to the highest scientific standards.

Samar will work closely with PICNet’s Education and Practice team, to support the development of IPC guidelines, toolkits, and knowledge translation resources, initially for the topics of reprocessing and antimicrobial resistant organisms. Samar will lead the creation of research questions, facilitate a literature search and then conduct evidence review and critical appraisal of literature to develop evidence syntheses for topics of interest.