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Healthcare providers get the go-ahead to book non-emergency appointments
KITCHENER -- More of Ontario’s healthcare providers have been given the green light to start seeing patients for non-emergency, elective and postponed visits.
But they’ll still have to follow some strict guidelines and new procedures to keep everyone safe.
On March 19 healthcare providers were asked to scale back to emergency-only visits.
That included optometrists, chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists.
“Under the guidelines of the college, which we’ve released, the professional can open in a safe way and a slow way, so you won’t see things ramping up to full capacity immediately,” says Dr. Patrick Quaid, President of the College of Optometrists of Ontario.
The Ministry of Health says the first option should be to offer services virtually.
If in-person visits are needed, they will have to be set up differently.
“They’ll probably be asked to contact the clinic when they arrive, so they actually stay in their vehicle before they come into the office,” says Dr. Quaid.
Patients, doctors and staff members will also have to wear masks, among other requirements.
“The clinic will be contacting patients ahead of time as well to take case histories and make sure the patient is in the office for as little time as possible, while still being able to address their complaints,” says Dr. Quaid.
Similar processes will also be set up at chiropractic clinics.
“We’ll also be making sure schedules for patients are different,” says Caroline Brereton, the CEO of the Ontario Chiropractic Association. “Fewer people will be in the office at the same time.”
Appointments also be spaced out so staff members have more time to clean between patients.
Healthcare providers are pleased to see the resumption of services, saying patients are asking to book appointments.
“Through our members, we do know there are wait lists for patients to come back and receive care,” says Brereton.
Wednesday’s announcement did not include guidelines for dental offices.
Their professional body is still reviewing the provincial directives and say further information will be released soon.