Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Pivoting to a new normal for COVID-19 safety

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the PGME team to reconsider the training needs of current PGME trainees. In March and April, COVID-19 resources such as establishment of goals of care and management of the critically ill patient with COVID-19 were curated and posted on the PGME website; many of the resources were adapted specifically to the University of Toronto context.

Next, PGME supported the practical training of residents and fellows for clinical redeployment as required to meet COVID-19 service needs. With the help of Dr. Filipe Santos from the Department of Anesthesia and in collaboration with TAHSN simulation centres at Mount Sinai hospital, Sunnybrook Health Science centre and Unity Health systems, trainees received practical training in the safe donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE), including for Protected Code Blue. The focus of training was on residents involved in internal redeployment and those on the PGME redeployment list which included the following departments: Anesthesia, Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, Neuroradiology, Obstetrics, Ophthalmology, Diagnostic Radiology, Family Medicine, Medical Genetics and Dermatology.

In June, our attention shifted to prepare incoming PGME trainees for their July start. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted clinical activities in the Spring, many trainees were entering residency with potential gaps in clinical training and encountering new infection control guidelines. To ensure their safety, a two-pronged approach was taken: a PPE Virtual Orientation and In-Person PPE Trainings at their training site. The Virtual Orientation included i) an infection control seminar about the ‘new normal’ clinical setting, ii) a video on human factors to enhance PPE safety, and iii) a knowledge and skills check with attestation that all components were completed.

Pivoting to meet our trainees’ needs during COVID-19 was done expeditiously and successfully. Over 300 residents/fellows received simulated training on PPE Safety, and an additional 100 participated in the virtual orientation. We were pleased to support, and continue to support the PGME trainees to function safely in the ‘new normal’.