UPDATED: COVID-19: Updates on PHOs, Guidance from CPTBC, and a Memo from PNAHC

COVID-19 Update Fall 2021

BC is currently in the midst of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and PABC would like to put out the following update on COVID-19 related news.

A PHO was released on October 14th, mandating vaccinations for health care workers. 

Many physiotherapists may be wondering how this affects them. The College of Physical Therapists in BC (CPTBC) released the following statement on October 15, 2021. Click here

The College’s initial review of the order is that, in summary, it applies to individuals employed by, or who provide care in, the public health care system, and not to the majority of private providers at this time. However, the “notice to health professionals” signals the Provincial Health Officer’s intention, at a future date, to broaden the order to a larger group of health professionals, including those who (like many physical therapists) are self-employed or who work for a private employer.  The College continues to follow this issue closely and will continue to provide updates to registrants as new information becomes available.

College position on PHO orders and vaccination

The College fully supports the vaccination efforts of the province – for physical therapists and the public. These are important measures needed to help protect British Columbians, including those who continue to be vulnerable to severe illness and death from COVID-19, even if they are vaccinated. The public needs to have confidence that when they receive health care from a health professional, they are not putting their health at risk.

We recognize that the vast majority of registrants have taken their responsibility to help eliminate COVID-19 in our communities seriously by getting vaccinated and diligently following COVID-19 prevention practices at work, including but not limited to completing point of care risk assessments and following appropriate infection prevention and control practices such as staying home when unwell, wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing wherever possible, practicing good hand hygiene, and sanitizing high touch surfaces.

We continue to encourage all registrants to get fully vaccinated: this is the best way to protect clients/patients from harm and preserve our ability to safely deliver health services. When you get vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself against COVID-19, but also everyone around you.

On September 9th, the Office of the Provincial Health Officer released the following provincial health order (PHO) with the aim of reducing the burden on our health care system by requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all public health care workers and private contractors who are working in long term care. Click here. 

The College has also released the following statement on COVID-19 Misinformation. Click here. 

The most important points are outlined below.

Your Responsibility as a Regulated Health Professional

When a patient/client asks for your advice or opinion on COVID-19 immunization or any medical or health concern related to COVID-19, we expect you to provide them with advice that is:

• within your scope of practice

• in line with provincial public health guidance

• grounded in science and best practices

If providing immunizations and related health advice is not within your professional role/scope of practice, you can direct patients/clients to a trusted source for more information or assessment of their personal situation.

• In BC, the recommended source of COVID-19 immunization information for your patients/clients is the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website. The Immunize BC website also has FAQs for patients.

• If the patient/client has medical questions or concerns about COVID-19 immunization in relation to their personal medical condition, or if they need more information, you can refer them to an appropriate regulated health professional who is authorized to provide immunizations, e.g., their primary care provider.

The Provincial Nursing and Allied Health Council (PNAHC) sent out a memo on September 16, 2021. In the memo, the PNAHC expresses their gratitude to the Nurses and Allied Health Professionals who have sacrificed so much during this pandemic to make sure patients receive the best care possible. 

As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of health care providers, several new and expanded provincial mental health resources have been developed. Some of these include: