Lifting of Restrictions for Non-urgent Non-essential Health Services
On April 30, 2020 the Premier introduced the Government of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy. As part of the strategy, regulated health professionals may resume the provision of non-urgent, non-essential services as early as May 4, 2020 “as long as they are following the approved guidelines set by their professional college” (see Page 8 of the Relaunch Strategy). The government acknowledges that the guidance each college provides will vary based on service delivery practices, risk or readiness.
NOTE: OTs should first refer to the guidance on the relaunch strategy and other public health orders prepared by their employers. Follow-up with your supervisor/manager or professional/clinical practice lead with any concerns or if clarification is required.
ACOT has prepared the following guidance for private practice OTs involved in the provision of urgent/non-urgent, non-essential services (see the April 9 eNews for definition of non-essential services) or the provision of essential services (i.e. mental health and addiction counselling and support) in private practice.
Although many OTs have been waiting patiently to resume in-person service delivery, caution is required in order to prevent inadvertent transmission of the COVID-19 virus. As such it is recommended that you:
- Offer services virtually whenever possible.
- If virtual service delivery is not possible, use your clinical judgement to determine whether in-person services can be delayed or postponed.
- This determination can be done in discussion with your referral source(s) and/or client(s) regarding what poses the highest risk (i.e. risk to your client’s health if services are not provided in-person versus risk to you/your client’s health if they are provided in-person).
- While the perspectives of your client or referral source are to be respected, you are ultimately accountable for prioritizing access to in-person services based on your clinical judgment.
- Defer/postpone in-person service delivery if client pre-screening reveals risk factors, signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
- Services must be deferred until signs and symptoms have resolved (at least 10days from symptom onset).
4. In the case that in-person service delivery is the most appropriate option:
- You must ensure that appropriate controls are in place. The controls you implement will vary depending on your service/practice setting (e.g. do you see you clients in your home/clinic? do you go to your clients?) and the type of service provided (e.g. can your client tolerate being masked throughout the intervention/visit? how close do you need to get to your client?):
- Engineering controls – e.g. signage, measures to maintain physical distancing, hand hygiene supplies for clients and staff.
- Administrative controls – e.g. pre-screening staff and clients to ensure they do not attend work/appointments when sick, limiting people who are in attendance/present at client appointments, infection prevention and control practices (including cleaning and disinfecting practices for treatment spaces and equipment).
- Access to and use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
5. You may only proceed with in-person service delivery when:
- All applicable engineering or administrative controls are in place;
- Supplies of required PPE are available for you and your client; and,
- You, and any staff under you supervision/employ, are adequately trained in the:
- determination of which PPE are required in addition to what is required for continuous masking (will depend on point of care risk assessment); and,
- proper donning/doffing/disposal of PPE
The Government of Alberta, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS), have prepared resources for business owners which may apply to OTs who are self-employed to guide them through implementation of required controls:
COVID-19 Information: Workplace Guidance for Business Owners
Resources prepared by AHS will also be helpful and can be found on their Information for AHS Staff and Health Professionals page. Recommendations for continuous masking are to be employed in addition to routine practices and other required PPE (based on a point of care risk assessment) in order to prevent the inadvertent spread of the virus between therapists/clients that may be positive but asymptomatic.
The Government of Alberta is coordinating requests for PPE for service providers that don’t normally use PPE in their service provision but are required to do so now. Eligible providers can submit requests using the following form https://xnet.gov.ab.ca/ppe. We have been informed that requests are to be made in based on what is required for a 2-week supply. Requests will be triaged by urgency of need and fulfillment of requests is subject to availability of stock.
The Government of Alberta will be monitoring the impact of their stepwise relaunch closely. As such, this guidance is subject to change in the event of a resurgence in viral spread.
As well, in the event of a discrepancy between this information and the directives/orders provided by the Government of Alberta/Chief Medical Officer of Health, the directions of the government take precedence.
Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions. Email is the easiest way to contact us as we are working remotely – our email addresses are listed at: https://acot.ca/contact-us/