As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to tax long-term care facilities across the country, a local software firm is helping to speed up the process of screening health-care employees for symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
Gatineau-based Macadamian is partnering with Ottawa’s Bruyère – a network of health-care institutions that includes two hospitals and Bruyère Continuing Care, a long-term care facility – on a new mobile app that allows employees to fill out a questionnaire about their health status before coming to work.
Employees are asked if they are suffering from various symptoms of the coronavirus, such as sore throat, cough or fever. If they answer yes to any of the questions, they are then connected with Bruyère’s occupational health experts to determine if they need to be quarantined.
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Currently, all employees at Bruyère’s two hospitals as well as its long-term care centre must line up to fill out a paper screening form before starting their shifts. With up to 600 workers in the buildings at a given time, the time-consuming process of completing forms by hand means people often have to show for shifts up to 45 minutes early, Bruyère officials say.
In addition, the long queues create bottlenecks at entrances and exits where dozens of employees waiting to finish their screening are met by workers finishing their shifts.
“Being able to streamline any kind of process that would increase social distancing – this is what the app will allow,” explains Macadamian CEO Fred Boulanger.
Guy Chartrand, the head of Bruyère Continuing Care, says he hopes as many as 95 per cent of the combined institutions’ more than 2,600 employees will use the app.
“I think it will simplify the process and eliminate a lot of stress,” he said.
Any employees who are told to stay home from work will continue to be paid during their period of self-isolation, Chartrand added.
“We don’t want to create an incentive for people to come into work when they’re not well,” he says.
Chartrand says the app will also allow Bruyère to more easily track the number of employees who could be infected with COVID-19 as well as their symptoms. He hopes this information can help local health authorities get a better handle on the virus’s spread.
Macadamian, which makes software for health-care customers around the world, employs about 80 people at its Gatineau headquarters and another 100 at two offices in eastern Europe. The company says it’s hoping the new app can be rolled out at long-term care homes across the country, adding it’s also looking forward to working with Bruyère on other projects.
Chartrand says the feeling is mutual, noting public-private partnerships are vital to developing new technology for the sector.
“Given the complexities of health care today and the requirements of the future, I’m hopeful that this will just be the start of bigger things to come,” he says.