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Health authority gives professional advice to MV Sun Sea responders

A bulletin to health workers called on to attend to Sri Lankan passengers of the MV Sun Sea includes reminders of professional conduct.

The ship arrived earlier today on Vancouver Island carrying nearly 500 passengers, including women, children and infants.

However, the message was sent out yesterday from the heads of the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), the BC Nurses Union, the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) and the Health Sciences Association of B.C. to all VIHA staff who might be called on to participate in what the Vancouver Island Health Authority is calling a “humanitarian emergency response”.

Calls to work as part of the response will be mandatory for employees and will be compensated according to each worker’s collective agreement, the bulletin states. Mandatory work and over time has been supported by the HEU.

Below is an excerpt from the bulletin:

The arrival of this ship off Vancouver Island has been widely publicized in the media, and the health authority has been asked by federal and provincial authorities to assist in the response effort. As this is a unique, unprecedented situation, it is recognized that the standard of care that may be given to these patients – should emergency and inpatient care for ship’s passengers/crew be required – may not meet the standard of care we are accustomed to providing. The Professional Colleges have been contacted and have offered the following advice:

-Professional standards and codes of ethics provide a framework for providing care in these types of circumstances

-Assess and care the best way possible – you cannot do it all

-Consider the potential impacts of the refugee and ship experience regarding personal and professional boundaries

The letter goes on to detail disease prevention measures, staff security and the guarding of refugee patients by federal and provincial officials.

The impending arrival of the ship has been met with government discussion of human smuggling and musings that the ship’s passengers may belong to the Tamil Tigers, a Sri Lankan resistance group who are considered a terrorist organization by Canada.

Download the full bulletin here.

Justin Langille reports on the landscape of work for The Tyee.

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