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COVID-19 Concerns Reported By Albertans: Community Medical Facilities And Clinics

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COVID-19, December Messenger 2020 | Posted December 15, 2020

COVID-19 has brought a heightened focus on preventative measures like hand hygiene and physical distancing. The pandemic has required Albertans, physicians and other healthcare providers to navigate rapid changes intended to keep ourselves—and each other—safe.

One way CPSA supports physicians in adapting to these changes is by sharing information that helps them make informed decisions. Since March, CPSA’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) program has tracked COVID-related concerns from patients who have visited community medical facilities and clinics.

“We’ve collected and are now sharing this information so physicians can better understand the types of concerns some Albertans have reported during the pandemic,” says Benjamin Kung, IPAC Program Manager. “We’re also seeing clinics taking steps to address these concerns, which demonstrates their commitment to patient safety.”

Highlights

  • Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases, reports of patient concerns have decreased over time.
  • As of the end of November, the most common patient concerns are:
  1. Lack of physician and other healthcare worker masking.
  2. Lack of physical distancing within clinics.
  3. Clinic offering non-essential services despite public health orders (these specific orders have since been lifted).
  • Concerns have evolved over time—early reports on non-compliance with public health orders, while more recent concerns relate to clinics adopting blanket policies, such as refusing in-person care to patients who cannot mask.

Concerns reported by Albertans                                                                      

The information captured below represents the pandemic-related concerns CPSA’s IPAC program has collected since March. While these figures are not intended to be comprehensive, they do provide a look at the types of concerns reported and how those concerns have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic. Concerns handled directly by other areas of CPSA or reported to other organizations are not included in these figures.

Concerns reported by month

The number of concerns reported peaked in April. While COVID-19 cases have increased in the fall, reported concerns have dropped, which may be a reflection of measures taken by clinics to keep patients safe.

Concerns by category

Healthcare worker masking and physical distancing are the top two concerns reported, likely because Albertans are highly aware of these prevention measures. Other concerns range from clinics not complying with public health orders (these orders have since been lifted) to blanket policies on patient masking and availability of virtual care.

Concerns by AHS zone

Edmonton and Calgary lead in the number of concerns reported. The “unknown zone” represents concerns reported from patients not specifying a location.

What physicians can do

“With COVID-19, physicians must make every effort to protect their patients, their teams and themselves from transmission,” says Kung.

Kung recommends clinics adopt daily fit-for-work screening of staff.

“Alberta Health Services has investigated multiple cases of healthcare workers coming to work while ill, which can expose patients to COVID,” he says.

Healthcare workers exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms must stay home and isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.

Staying up-to-date on the latest guidelines is also essential. As COVID-19 protocols and recommendations are updated regularly, physicians can visit CPSA’s website for the latest news and updated advice to the profession.

“We’ve all learned a lot about COVID and how to minimize its spread since March,” says Kung. “It’s been a steep learning curve, but physicians and their teams have adapted to changing guidelines in ways that enable them to continue to provide quality care to Albertans.”

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