Still Seeing Urgent Patients – March 24, 2020
The healthcare environment has been changing daily. As a response to the quickly shifting landscape, Leading Edge Physiotherapy recently took steps that we believe were required to be proactive during the present pandemic we are ALL facing. When we announced that we were temporarily suspending non-urgent patient visits, we immediately engaged the necessary experts to provide guidance and assurance regarding our processes. We conferred with our colleagues and our professional regulatory body. We also took some time to take a much needed pause from the stressful decisions that seemed to be made in an environment of fear and panic rather than calm and science.
we have spent the last week working harder than ever in our lives to:
- develop our TeleRehab program so that those who are unable to attend or are afraid to attend can access care,
- confer with Alberta infectious disease physicians to receive assurance that our infection control policies are gold standard,
- create a triage policy to ensure that urgent patients in need of one-on-one care are not turned away,
- re-work our physical clinical spaces to ensure the safest environment possible (increased space, reduced contact points) and
- to take a needed mental break so that we are clear of thought and full of energy to be a part of the solution during this pandemic.
physiotherapy is an essential service
Alberta Health Services, the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta and Physiotherapy Alberta College + Association continue to consider physiotherapy an essential service. If you take the time to read my past Covid19 blogs, you will understand the dilemma we have faced in making sure that we support our medical colleagues whilst being responsible citizens during this time. We are being asked to stay open.
To quote an earlier message, “it is our moral and ethical responsibility to remain a safe harbour for patients who may not have other places to turn. In some cases, it’s the patient who is a paramedic, firefighter, nurse or physician. People whom we all need in the fight. In other cases, it’s the mom who is in too much pain to look after her kids who are now home and in need of her attention. I am not being dramatic here. This is our present reality and I am in awe of our team for being bigger than our present fears might be leading us to be.”
Let me please say it once again: Leading Edge physiotherapy is prepared to help Albertans and offer the safest environment possible during this pandemic. We have always placed our patients and staff first. The safety of everyone who crosses the threshold of our clinics is paramount. There is no wiggle room on these two fronts. By taking the time and working diligently over the past seven days we all feel that our patients can access our services in a way that they feel most comfortable.
so what will be different now?
- enhanced screening including day before and day of confirmation that patients are not presenting symptoms, haven’t recently travelled and are not caring for anyone who is ill,
- all staff are facing an enhanced screening process daily and have voluntarily agreed to be self isolating during the pandemic,
- all patients are required to wash hands upon entry to our facilities,
- less clinical beds, staff and no crossover of our professional staff to increase physical distances in all of our clinics,
- no paper or pens (all forms are electronic filled in advance and all consent will be verbal),
- waiting rooms will be eliminated (patients are asked to wait in their car until their appointment),
- shortened appointment times with minimal support staff (critical support staff for infection control),
- ongoing advanced infection control and sterilization procedures including immediate disinfection of all contact points in our facilities,
- signs that ask patients to respect the 2 meter distance between one another,
- our staff will be wearing gloves, (cloth masks and protective eye-wear will be added when available) – it is important to note that these are not the same masks that front line covid response workers require to remain safe themselves. We are taking this step to remind ourselves not to touch our faces. By having these barriers, we can ensure that we are not exposing ourselves to contact related viral transmission,
- triage will be ongoing to ensure that urgent patients get appointments first (available now), followed by critical (March 30) and semi-critical patients (starting April 6) and
- tele-rehabilitation appointments are now available at a discounted rate to our normal in clinic visits.
these extreme measures have been vetted and confirmed to be best practice
Today we feel that we have taken the necessary steps to address our patients’ needs during these trying times.
Leading Edge Physiotherapists and our staff are aware of social shaming for people who are going into the public. Looking after your own health in order to reduce the burden on the medical system is essential to the pandemic response and for that you should not feel shame. We know that taking significant precautions both personally and professionally will help to stem the tide of this pandemic. We also know that being a health provider means that you are there when people need you. We are here for you until the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta tells us otherwise.
Remember, our environments are controlled in a manner so as to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid19.
I would like to be crystal clear: we ask that you do not attend the Clinic if the following applies to your situation:
- You have been or suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19;
- You have returned from travel outside of Canada after March 10, 2020;
- You or anyone in your close social circle are ill (any signs of illness including sore throat, cold or allergies);
- You are immuno-suppressed;
- There has been evidence that COVID-19 is more severe in people over age 65. If you are over age 65, please consider if in clinic treatment is CRITICAL to your health currently.
If you have any questions, please contact us via email. I am happy to answer your questions personally.
While the past days have been very emotional for all of us at Leading Edge, we appreciate the amazing support from the community and our staff. Your messages of support have lifted us all up and energized us. We are ALL in this together. By taking the above drastic steps, we feel that we can continue to act in the best interest of our patients, staff and one another.
we are here for you so let the singing continue!
With deep gratitude to all of you and with all the love in my heart,