COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Health-care Providers

This section contains information on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) designed to support local health-care providers. Lambton Public Health provides recommendations and resources based on best practices, available evidence, and in the interest of employee and community health. The COVID-19 situation and Ontario Ministry of Health recommendations for health-care professionals are evolving rapidly. Please check this webpage frequently for updates.

Long-term Care & Retirement Home Providers

Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes should contact their infectious disease representative at Lambton Public Health with any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 or other infectious diseases.

View more information and guidelines for long-term care and retirement homes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the best place to find up-to-date COVID-19 information for health-care providers?

The Ontario Ministry of Health has a dedicated page with guidance for the health sector related to COVID-19. This page is updated regularly with the case definition, how health-care providers can help stop the spread of COVID-19, travel recommendations, signage, and guidance documents for each health sector:

Guidance for Primary Care Providers in a Community Setting
Guidance for Acute Care
Guidance for Home and Community Care Providers
Guidance for Paramedic Services
Guidance for Independent Health Facilities
Guidance for Community Pharmacies
Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes
    ○ Outbreak Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes (LTCH)
    ○Long-Term Care Homes COVID-19 Screening Checklist

What is the clinical case definition for COVID-19?

The Ministry of Health has stated the current case definition for COVID-19 here.

A list of symptoms most commonly associated with COVID-19 as defined by the Ontario Ministry of Health can be found here.

How can I help?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Bluewater Health is requesting the following items in high quantities:
• N95 masks (NIOSH or CE)
• Ear loop masks (ASTMF2100-11, L2 rating or greater)
• Surgical Masks
• Protective Gowns (AAMI, L2 rating or greater)
• Vented goggles (CSA Z94.3-2015 or ANSI287.1-2015)
• Protective gloves (vinyl or nitrile)

Bluewater Health is also accepting donations of handmade masks that go over the nose and mouth for patient use.  

If you are able to help, email kalexander@bluewaterhealth.ca. If you are not able to donate these items, you can still help by making a donation at http://bwhf.ca.

For more information on the proper use of masks and how to make your own mask, visit the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention resource here.  

Canada Sews is a group of volunteers across Canada providing fabric masks and scrub caps to front line workers in need. Any organization in need of masks can submit a request through the Canada Sews website. Sewing patterns are also available from their website.

Ontario is looking for people with experience in health care who can help to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19
Visit the Ontario Health Workforce Matching Portal if you are a:

• Health care provider working part-time and want to increase your work hours, a former health care provider who is retired or on inactive status, or a health care provider in training and you’d like to be matched to positions and opportunities where services are needed most
• Health care facility and would like to request help from available resources

What are the current infection prevention and control (IPAC) recommendations for COVID-19?

Public Health Ontario has developed updated IPAC Recommendations for Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Care of Individuals with Suspect or Confirmed COVID-19. More information on PPE can be found on Public Health Ontario’s COVID-19 webpage.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology is providing complimentary access of their Text Chapter Collection: Long-Term Care from now through to September 30th, 2020.  The resource provides health care professionals with access to support for COVID-19 infection prevention planning. Access the resource here.

Where can I access screening tools for COVID-19?

The Ontario Ministry of Health has a COVID-19 screening checklist to support Health Care Providers in their screening practices for all patients.There is an additional screening guidance document to support Long-term Care and Retirement Homes in their screening practices for residents.

The Ministry of Health also developed a COVID-19: self-assessment tool to help members of the public determine how to seek further care.

Passive screening in the form of signage is part of the guidance for health-care facilities. Signs for both patients and visitors are available for download here.

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

The Ontario Ministry of Health has indicated the following groups to be prioritized for testing:

• Symptomatic health care workers, caregivers, care providers, staff and first responders (regardless of care delivery setting) should be tested immediately if they develop COVID-19 symptoms (including atypical symptoms)
• Symptomatic residents and staff in Long Term Care facilities and retirement homes and other institutional settings eg. Homeless shelter (as per outbreak guidance)
• Asymptomatic patients transferred from a hospital to a Long Term Care Home
• Asymptomatic residents living in the same room as a symptomatic resident
• Hospitalized patients admitted with respiratory symptoms (new or exacerbated)
• Symptomatic members of remote, isolated, rural and/or indigenous communities
• Asymptomatic contacts should be considered for testing in consultation with the local public health authority.
• Symptomatic travellers identified at a point of entry to Canada

For more information on who should be tested and the management of those who have not been tested, review the document here from the Ministry of Health. Additional updated detail on who should be tested is outlined by the Ministry of Health here. Public Health Ontario has provided more detailed COVID-19 testing guidelines here, including specimen requirements.

For primary care providers, please see the updated COVID-19 referral form. Contact us if you have any questions.

How does COVID-19 affect my primary care practice?

The Ministry of Health has stated that all primary care providers are encouraged to implement virtual and/or telephone consultations when possible. When possible, conduct a phone consultation to determine if a virtual/telephone or in-person appointment is necessary. Non-essential face-to-face appointments should be postponed or converted to virtual appointments. Find more information here.

“STOP” sign for patients entering health-care offices – Also available in French

When should health-care workers stay home?

The Ontario Ministry of Health states that “If a Health-care Worker is suspected to have (i.e. symptoms AND relevant contact or travel) or diagnosed with COVID-19, the HCW must remain off work until symptoms are fully resolved and negative laboratory tests have been confirmed.” Heath-care workers must stay home until symptoms are resolved/ or negative test results are received.

When should health-care workers return to work?

The Ontario Ministry of Health has created two approaches to clearing COVID-19 cases:

Non-Test Based Approach – This means waiting 14 days from symptom onset (or 14 days from when swab was taken if persistently asymptomatic).

Test Based Approach – This means obtaining two consecutive negative specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
 
Health Care Workers (HCWs) should follow isolation and clearance with a non-tested based approach unless they have required hospitalization during the course of their illness. If hospitalization occurred, a test based approach is preferred.
Symptomatic HCWs awaiting test results must be off from work. If a HCW is asymptomatic and awaiting a test result, they may continue to work as long as appropriate precautions recommended by the facility are used.

Please note that some HCWs may be directed to have a test based clearance by their employer.
A HCW that requires a referral for a second COVID-19 test to return to work should contact either their place of employment or their primary care provider.
 
For more information on when a HCW can return to work, including exceptional circumstances, please refer to page 4 of the Quick Reference Guidance on Testing and Clearance.

What is the recommended treatment for COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine against or specific treatment for COVID-19. Treatment is supportive and should be tailored to the patient’s condition. The WHO has published guidance on the clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection when novel coronavirus infection is suspected.

General COVID-19 myth busters from the World Health Organization for the public can be found here.

Can my patient receive health-care if they haven’t received OHIP benefits yet?

Ontario is waiving the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. The province will cover the cost of COVID-19 services for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. Together, these measures will ensure that no one will be discouraged from seeking screening or treatment for COVID-19 for financial reasons. Learn more from the Government of Ontario.

Where can patients access care for urgent medical needs other than the hospital?

Rapids Family Health Team Access to Care Centre continues to be open for episodic medical conditions (e.g., urinary tract infections, ear aches, rashes, etc.). If a patient is unwell and can’t get in touch with their primary care provider, they can access care during the following hours:
Monday thru Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
CALL 519-491-6188

Good Doctors Clinics 
Patients can now visit with a doctor by calling (888) 930-6571 OR texting (705) 910-7799. Most common issues can be resolved directly through a phone or video call with a doctor from home.

Wiltshire Walk-In Clinic
Patients who would like to check-in to our walk-in clinic, please stay home and TEXT (519) 491-1922 with your name with the best phone number to reach you and we will contact you shortly when your turn is up.

MD Connected
Virtual appointments are now available to ALL residents of Ontario. Connect to a doctor from the comfort of home through the MD Connected app. It is available for download on Google Play or Apple Store with an invite from MD Connected. Visits can also be completed through a secure online portal.

Our OHIP-covered virtual services have been expanded to include: 
• COVID-19 Screening
• Dermatologist Consultation
• Pediatrician Consultation
• Mental Health Consultation
• Medical Cannabis Consultation
• HIV PrEP and PEP Consultation
• Ketamine Therapy for Depression

Dial-A-Doc
Dial-A-Doc provides OHIP covered phone appointments with Ontario doctors for various medical services to those who do not have a family doctor available. Prescriptions will be faxed to your local pharmacy.

Is it safe to reuse Personal Protective Equipment?

Public Health Ontario advises that most personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed for single use. If reuse is considered, adequate disinfection must occur. Although disinfection and reuse of disposable PPE for reuse may be possible, the processes may compromise the integrity of the product and impact its effectiveness.

For more information review the Public Health Ontario synopsis of the current research.

Is blood test screening for antibodies available?

Rapid response blood tests used to detect coronavirus antibodies are currently under review by Health Canada for widespread implementation.  Further consideration is required before tests will be administered in Canada. Please watch our website for new information on COVID-19 screening as it becomes available.

Resources

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