COVID-19 FAQS & RESOURCES

OPA FAQ AND RESOURCES

FAQs August 4, 2020 –   Updated regularly, and also listed below

Government Financial Supports to Individuals & Businesses July 22, 2020

EHB Insurance and Virtual Care June 9, 2020

Virtual Care Information for Patients April 9, 2020

OPA Advocacy: COVID-19 Pandemic

Contact OPA with any questions at physiomail@opa.on.ca

OPA MEMBERS – Login to access the following resources

Physiotherapy in Primary Care during COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Webinar Series

Town Hall – May 7, 2020

COVID-19 Clinic Re-opening Considerations – May 27, 2020

  • Slide Deck
  • Webinar FAQ


CANADIAN PHYSIOTHERAPY ASSOCIATION

COVID-19 information, resources and statements


COLLEGE OF PHYSIOTHERAPISTS OF ONTARIO

College of Physiotherapists of Ontario – Monitor for updates regarding any regulatory requirements and to follow any policies put in place by your organization unless contrary to those requirements.


ONTARIO GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC HEALTH ONTARIO & OTHER RESOURCES

Ontario government’s dedicated COVID-19 web page, updated twice a day (10:30 am and 5:30 pm), seven days a week

Guidance documents for various health sectors to ensure that they are following practices to enhance their safety and the safety of patients

Public Health Ontario resources and fact sheets

Public Health Ontario Guidelines for PPE

Contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, your primary care provider, or your local public health unit if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Use the government’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool.

Healthcare Provider Hotline – for more information at 1-866-212-2272.

Health professionals considering the need to test a patient for COVID-19 should contact Public Health Ontario’s Customer Service Centre at: 416-235-6556 / 1-877-604-4567 for advice and support.


WSIB

WSIB FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This information is updated regularly with new or revised information to best address members’ key concerns and questions. 

OPA has prioritized disseminating resources to ensure we provide members with the best available information to assist them during this challenging time. We will continue to provide support and regular updates as circumstances have been changing rapidly. There are many implications for the recommendations that are made by the Association and it is critical that all guidance we provide be informed by the best available and most accurate information.

Members are working through the impact that the pandemic is having on them, their families, patients, staff and businesses, all of which we are taking into consideration as we curate resources and/or prepare recommendations. OPA has been coordinating with CPA and is in communication with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario to ensure we provide timely and accurate information.

The framework consists of three stages. The Ontario government is taking a regionalized approach to reopening of services and the economy. Due to positive trends of key public health indicators at the local level including lower cases of COVID-19 despite increased testing, the Ontario government in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health allowed some regions of the province to enter Stage 3 on Friday, July 17 and allowed Toronto and Peel region to enter stage 3 on July 31. You can read the full list here of additional business and services that are allowed to re-open and under what conditions that they are permitted to do so.

Effective May 26, 2020 with the release of the amended CMOH Directive #2 and a new guidance document “COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart” physiotherapy clinics that meet the requirements may begin to open. Version 2 of the guidance document was released June 15. Changes include managing visitors (including active and passive screening), updates to the human resources section including restrictions after travel, and updates to the infection prevention and control section, cleaning between patients.

Directive #2 was amended to reflect the gradual restart of all deferred and non-essential and elective services carried out by health care providers. The guidance document outlines measures that must be in place for the provision of in-person health services by health care providers. As per the amended Directive, “Health Care Providers are in the best position to determine which services should continue to be provided remotely (online, by telephone or other virtual means) and which should be provided in-person. This should be guided by best clinical evidence. Health Care Providers must also adhere to the guidance provided by their applicable health regulatory college”.

We are pleased that our advocacy and the engagement of our members to amplify the voice of the profession has led to the regulatory changes that expanded the essential list to include regulated health professionals with no limitation for urgent care only and this final step in the amendment of Directive #2 opening the way to restarting physiotherapy services.

Members must review both the Directive and the COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart (version 2) in addition to guidance provided by the CPO as they prepare their practice to safely and responsibly deliver care to Ontarians.

Members must implement infection control practices and measures including the use of PPE that are consistent with provincial and jurisdictional public health recommendations, Ministry of Health guidelines and the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario standards of practice and guidance in this area. It is important that members stay up to date on public health recommendations and monitor for changes.

The guidance document for primary care providers in a community setting (version 5, May 22) and the  COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart (version 2) document both provide information on risk reduction measures for those providing in person care. It also provides PPE guidance for those who screen positive or negative for COVID 19 and routine PPE practices for the safety of yourself and others.

The Government of Canada has launched a new PPE Hub. The Hub links to provincial information and resources about PPE as well as a listing of reliable sources to access PPE.

Access the PPE Hub.

The College has developed an FAQ page on returning to practice that covers variety of questions regarding PPE. View the full list of questions here.

Please note that the OPA prioritizes the safe return to practice on behalf of patients, physiotherapists, and supporting team members.

The decision to open is up to each practice, clinic or physiotherapy service.  Each must determine if it is ready to meet the requirements set out in the COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart and the College guidance including physical space, infection control and adequate PPE.

We also acknowledge that each physiotherapist will have to make their own determination about whether they are in a position to re-open their clinics or practices based on their own personal and professional factors. There is no requirement for practices to re-open to provide in person care.

In reopening, Directive #2 specifically states that health professionals should continue providing virtual care where possible and appropriate to do so to continue to optimize physical distancing. If you are not already engaged in that type of practice, we encourage you to explore options to do so. In addition, the College released a reminder about the requirements of the gradual resumption of services for physiotherapists. Read their full statement here.

The government has released the COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart document (version 2) to assist providers as they return to in person practice. The CPO also has guidance material available by practice area/sector available on their website.

In addition, the government has developed guidance documents for a number of health sectors including acute care, home care and long-term care related to COVID-19.  Review these guidance documents here.

Guidelines for primary care providers in a community setting were published May 22. Access them here.

Updated guidance on patient screening (version 4) has also been posted. Access it here.

The Ministry of Health posts all Directives and Memorandums on their website.

When new guidance documents and directives are announced there are often delays in the Government’s website being updated. We therefore recommend that you check back to the government’s dedicated websites to COVID-19 frequently.

The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario has resources to help you ensure providing care virtually and billing for this service meets the standards of practice.

A physiotherapist must use their professional judgement to determine whether it is appropriate, effective, and safe to deliver care through virtual means for each patient.  Factors such as competence with technology, language barriers, and cognitive or physical impairments must be considered in all cases, and informed consent must be given to participating in virtual care.  The College has listed the type of interventions and modalities that can be provided virtually which you can find here.

With the removal of limitations to providing in-person care removed, health authorities still recommend the use of virtual care where possible to continue to optimize physical distancing and meet the operational requirements for re-opening of services. Consider offering a blended model of in person and virtual care where appropriate.

OPA is aware that some members have been providing virtual care previous to the COVID-19 pandemic and have billed usual and customary fees for virtual visits. Depending on your fee structure, or Ministry directed fee guidelines for virtual care (e.g. home care sector), you may choose or be required to bill a different fee.

In all cases you must comply with the CPO standards and recommendations regarding fees and billing. It is important to be transparent with funders and this includes indicating on all documentation for care, including your invoice that care was provided through a virtual visit. At all times all standards of practice including those for charting and billing and fees must be met.

Several extended health benefits insurers have publicly indicated that they will cover physiotherapy virtual care visits. You access a list of insurers paying for virtual visit claims here. The WSIB is also allowing for a variety of their programs and services to be delivered through virtual care for those with workplace injuries.  For auto insurance it is up to each individual insurer however there is no prohibition in the SABS on the provision of virtual care. If an auto insurer denies a treatment plan or places barriers to care provided virtually without good reasons then this may be a reason for a complaint to FSRAO. To learn more here about Statutory Accident Benefit Claims during COVID 19, including an interpretation of the legislation as it relates to the use of virtual care provided to a claimant. If you have any questions about virtual care and coverage, you are welcome to reach out to the insurer to ask for clarification, however the policy holder (i.e. the patient) should also contact their insurance company to confirm coverage.

OPA and CPA are continuing to advocate for coverage to ensure access to care across all funding streams. We will share more information with members as soon as it is available.

CPA has developed a webinar series to address member questions concerning telehealth services. Additional resources for accessing telehealth platforms have also been available at discounted rates to members. Find more information here.

The Government of Canada has information about funding and programs that are being implemented to support those whose livelihoods are being affected by COVID-19. This information is being updated regularly. Read more about the eligibility and requirements here.

OPA has also prepared a summary of the federal government supports to date to assist members in understanding the program and how they may apply for the various assistance options. Each situation will be different and members are advised to seek out advice as needed from their legal/financial/accounting consultants as appropriate.

CPA has developed a webinar series to address member questions concerning COVID-19 including managing financial and business risks. Access them here.

OPA and CPA continue to advocate for supports for affected businesses. Read more about CPA’s actions to date here.

Though the announcement spoke to front line workers in acute care, long-term care and home and community care who are working to address the health needs of Ontarians during the pandemic the list that accompanies the announcement includes some professions but not others such as physiotherapists or physiotherapist assistants and many other health professions working in these sectors.

OPA advocated for inclusion for physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants.

On May 27 OPA received notification in the form of memorandum from the Deputy Minister of Health Helen Angus which stated that: 

“As you know, on April 25, the government announced it is providing eligible frontline and support workers with temporary pandemic pay. 

Since that time, we have received inquiries about whether the list of eligible workers or workplaces would be expanded. There is a limit to the amount of funding provided by the federal government through our agreement and after careful consideration, the government will not be expanding the pandemic pay beyond those already deemed eligible.”

For physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants this means that only those who meet the requirements in Long-Term Care Homes and Licensed Retirement Homes are included in the program.

Though the list will not be expanded due to insufficient funds we feel strongly all health care providers who face the same risk should be eligible for the same pandemic pay supplements and publicly recognized for their work in during the pandemic. OPA will continue to push to ensure that the vital role that physiotherapy plays during this health care crisis is understood and valued and we thank all our members who took the time to share how their work impacts patients with their MPP, the Minister of Health and the Premier.

On June 3, OPA President, Paulette Gardiner Millar issued a letter to members of the OPA indicating that OPA will not stop advocating for the recognition by government for the critical and essential work that physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants are doing during this pandemic and beyond but we will not wait for the government either.

Members can login to the OPA website to read the letter.

We-Are-PT-logo

Members are being encouraged to use #WeArePT and share how you have been, and are there now for Ontarians every day. Members are to share their stories of impact on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and include the hashtag. OPA continues to share these stories so that the public and decision makers can see the value of PT and the difference we make for Ontarians.

OPA understands that this is an exceptional time for members with incredible pressures to meet numerous personal, business, family and patient demands. We are focusing our resources to help support members during this time. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety or additional mental health challenges, the CPO has put together a list of free mental health resources you can explore. These resources are available to you as a health care worker, to your patients, caregivers, and others. View the full list here.