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 produced guidance documents on COVID-19 for a number of health care partners and sectors. Please review this page frequently as the guidance for the health care sector is updated regularly.

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.

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 are available to download for both patients and visitors. 

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

For information on who should be tested and the management of those who have not been tested, review this document from the Ministry of Health. Additional direction has also been provided for both symptomatic and asymptomatic risk-based testing

Testing is available for Sarnia-Lambton residents regardless of symptoms. For more information on locations and hours of testing centers see the Lambton Public Health COVID-19 testing web page. To support patients with mobility concerns requiring COVID-19 testing, the Community Paramedicine Program is available for mobile testing. Please contact Lambton Public Health for more information.   
 
Public Health Ontario has also 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.

Guidelines and tips for reopening primary care practices during COVID-19

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. Ontario has approved new physician billing codes for telephone assessments, enabling doctors to conduct more assessments over the phone rather than in the clinic. Find more information about the reopening of primary care practices in the Ontario Ministry of Health guidance document for primary care providers.

A comprehensive guide for reopening your office is available from the Ontario Health South West Non-Hospital Pandemic Response Table. Additional tools can be found on the South West COVID Tools Website.

Guidance for providing immunization services during COVID-19 are available from the Ministry of Health.

Visit OntarioMD for resources and tips on how to provide virtual care.

When should health-care workers stay home?

If a Health Care Worker (HCW) develops any common and/or less common COVID-19 symptoms, whether prior to or during a shift, they should wash their hands, go home, immediately notify their supervisor, and self-isolate.
The Ontario Ministry of Health states that:
  • “Symptomatic HCWs awaiting testing results must be off work
  • Asymptomatic HCWs awaiting testing results may continue to work using the appropriate precautions recommended by the facility, which will depend on the reason for testing” 

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 COVID-19. Extensive vaccine research, clinical trials and treatment studies are underway. A list of authorized clinical trials is available from the Government of Canada. 

Treatment for COVID-19 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 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.

Where can I find Personal Protective Equipment or learn how to properly reuse supplies?

Should you require additional sources of PPE supplies, the Ontario Government has set up an online workplace PPE supplier directory.

For health care providers, information on the regional emergency supply of PPE, ordering swabs, donating PPE, or selecting appropriate PPE can be found here.

If you are considering reusing PPE, Public Health Ontario advises that adequate disinfection must occur. Although disinfection and reuse of disposable PPE 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.
 
Ontario Health has provided the following recommendations on PPE use and optimization during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Personal Protective Equipment Use During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Optimizing the Supply of Personal Protective Equipment During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Reprocessing of N95 Respirators

Is blood test screening for antibodies available?

Health Canada has authorized the first COVID-19 serological (blood) test for use in Canada. Under the leadership of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, Canadian laboratories will use the test to detect antibodies specific to COVID-19. These tests will help us better understand whether people who have been infected by COVID-19 become immune to the virus. Further research will also help to better understand the relationship between positive antibody tests and protection against re-infection. Learn more from Health Canada here.

Tests are now available in Ontario for the following people:
• Children suspected to have Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome
• Hospitalized patients with suspected COVID at least 3 weeks after symptoms started and who’ve had 2 negative tests.
• People with a neurological illness.
• General public can request a test from their family doctor, but will be responsible for covering the cost of the test.

I am concerned about my mental health, where can I find resources that can help me cope?

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has provided access to mental health and addiction supports for health care workers that may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These resources are available here.

Resources

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