Updated Guidance on Identifying Urgent, Critical and Emergency OT Services

On March 27, the Government of Alberta announced measures relating to the provision of health care services during the pandemic. Albertans are prohibited from accessing non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals.

NOTE: To clarify the eNews of March 28, this directive does not apply to health services offered in acute, sub-acute, tertiary care facilities, continuing care (including long-term care, supportive living, home care) or the provision of mental health or addiction services. The full list of health, medical and public health services that are exempt from these public health orders can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/essential-services.aspx (click the plus icon for the full listing).

If you are employed in one of the essential services: Each of the employers of the essential services listed (e.g. AHS, Covenant, Carewest, Capital Care, AHS contracted home care, supportive living or long-term care providers, etc.) is responsible for determining how the public health orders are adhered to. Please refer to your employer’s guidance on how OT services will be prioritized and delivered for your clients/patients/residents.

For those OTs that are self-employed and/or whose employer/contracting organization is not involved in the delivery of the essential services in the list linked above: Alberta Health has advised that OTs can continue to provide urgent, critical and emergent services. You are not permitted however, to provide any other close contact service to your clients if it does not constitute urgent, critical or emergency care.

To assist in the determination of urgent/critical OT services, the following questions should be considered:

  • If the OT service is not provided, will the client require services from another health care provider in an urgent care or emergency department setting?
  • Is the client unable to work due to their injury/condition?
  • Is the client seeking services related to a recent surgery, burn, or other condition that will have significant healing/function delays or adverse outcomes if OT services are not provided?
  • Is the client’s condition significantly or severely impairing their ability to complete their activities of daily living?
  • If OT services are not provided, will this cause harm to the client or others (e.g. does the client have an acute mental health issue)?

All OTs, and the support personnel they supervise, that are providing essential or urgent services delivered at close contact must adhere to the Infection Prevention and Control practices outlined by their employer to protect against inadvertent spread of the COVID-19 virus to the at-risk populations served. OTs delivering urgent services within their private practice can find links to IPC resources prepared by AHS in the March 27 eNews for reference.

Virtual delivery of OT services (e.g. through telephone or videoconferencing) can continue at this time, as it does not involve close contact with clients or others. Please refer to ACOT’s Practice Advisory for considerations prior to initiating virtual service delivery.

Please note that while we are working to align our guidance with that given by other Allied Health Colleges, some differences will exist due to differences in our respective funding and service delivery models. For example, some private practice clinicians are contracted by residents of supportive living or long-term care to provide non-urgent rehabilitation services. As the provision of these close contact health services are not urgent, they should be discontinued in order to limit inadvertent transmission of the COVID-19 virus to residents and/or staff.

ACOT will continue to update you with further information, as we receive it from the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health and the Medical Officer of Health.

Please reach out to us if you have any further questions. Email is the easiest way to contact us.