COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus)

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Resource Center for Physicians
 

Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services continues to be the primary source for COVID-19 information and hosts clinical resources for all providers, including those in primary care. AHS has developed the first online self-assessment tool for the public in Canada. The public can use this simple questionnaire to determine if they should call 811 for testing arrangements. Visit Ahs.ca/covid for resources.

The Alberta Health website is also a great resource to learn about the developing situation in Alberta, including official updates from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and actions being taken to protect the health of Albertans.

AHS has launched a self-assessment tool to help people determine whether or not they should be tested for COVID-19: COVID-19 SELF-ASSESSMENT. If you or your office are receiving calls from patients, please encourage them to use the self-assessment tool as a first step.

Assessment Centres are being planned across all Zones of AHS. The Calgary and Edmonton Zones have opened Assessment Centres as of March 7, which are accepting referrals through the Health Link (811) triaging process. Any concerns about travel or symptoms should go through 811 to be triaged appropriately. Each zone is in a different phase of planning with an expectation that centres will be opened based on local need, resources and the evolving situation. Staffing considerations, including physician payment, are part of the planning.

Your Health

Mental Health

During a pandemic such as COVID-19, physicians may encounter heightened stress and challenges. You may feel fatigue, worry or anxiety. If in distress, please consult the following resources:

  • Contact AMA’s Physician and Family Support Program for CONFIDENTIAL help 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year:
    • 1.877.SOS.4MDS (767.4637)
    • International: 403.930.0529 (you may call collect)
  • WellDoc Physician resources for COVID-19: WellDoc Alberta has put together this helpful resource on the impacts of the pandemic on physicians and ways they can help address them.

PPE

Information and recommendations with respect to use of Personal Protective Equipment when caring for individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can be found on the Information for AHS Staff & Health Professionals page of the AHS website. The page includes information about contact and droplet precautions, ordering PPE during COVID-19 and a memo about PPE distribution to PCNs. Note: scroll down the page and type “PPE” in the search box to more easily access PPE information.

  • Community physicians, primarily in PCNs, have seen an initial distribution of Personal Protective Equipment, but more will be needed. We are seeking more clarity on what can be expected for delivery and cost.

Virtual Care

Following discussions between the Alberta Medical Association and government, AH established three new categories of virtual care codes so that family physicians and specialists can provide more telemedicine, such as teleconferencing and video, for an expanded scope of patient needs during the pandemic, including visit services, consultation services and mental health services. These new codes will be applied retroactively to March 17, compensating doctors using a rate that is closer to a face-to-face interaction with the patient.

Have questions about using virtual care codes? View our March 2020 Billing Corner and see our billing tip: 03.01AD for COVID-19 for helpful information and answers to common questions.

Have questions on adopting Virtual Care?We have assembled resources to help physicians prepare for providing increased virtual care. Find tips for getting started on our Virtual care page.

Business

Provincial Government

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Alberta government announced a number of emergency measures to support Albertans affected by the pandemic. MD Financial Management has rounded up the new measures, and topics include:

  • New virtual care codes for physicians
  • Emergency isolation support
  • Job-protected leave
  • Corporate income tax — payment date extended
  • Pause on Alberta student loan repayments
  • Utility payment deferral
  • ATB Financial, credit union and mortgage payment relief
  • WCB premiums relief
  • Education property tax freeze and deferral for businesses

Government of Canada

The federal government announced significant economic measures to support Canadians affected financially by COVID-19 with support from the country’s six largest banks. MD Financial Management has rounded up the new measures, organized by relevance to medical students and residents, practising physicians, retired physicians and family members. Topics include:

  • Canada Child Benefit
  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit
  • Canada Student Loads
  • GST credits
  • Line of credit
  • Personal, corporate and trust taxes
  • Mortgage payments
  • RRIF withdrawal rates
  • Wage subsidy for employers

View COVID-19 support measures: At a glance

If it becomes necessary to temporarily lay off staff, the federal government announced that they will waive the one-week waiting period for people who are in quarantine or have been directed to self-isolate and are claiming for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. The federal government will also introduce enhancements to the Work-Sharing Program to help employers and their workers who are experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19. They are exploring additional measures to support other affected Canadians, including income support for those that are not eligible for EI sickness benefits. For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website.

CMPA

During the crisis you may be asked to join the emergency response effort. This may necessitate work in a different clinical setting (e.g., emergency department) or in a different province where the need is greater. Please click to learn more about your CMPA protection during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit the CMPA COVID-19 Hub for the latest information, advice and support related to medical-legal protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insurance

COVID-19 impacts on AMA insurance programs for members:

ADIUM Insurance Services – Disability/Professional Overhead Expense/Term Life/Critical Illness
  • Illness and death from COVID-19 is covered under the Disability, Professional Overhead Expense and Term Life plans.
  • COVID-19 diagnosis is not a covered illness under the Critical Illness plan.
  • Asymptomatic and symptomatic quarantine will count toward the completion of the waiting period under the Disability and POE plans. Beyond the quarantine period, the waiting period must be completed due to illness.
  • New applications – due to the inability to complete the lab tests required for most applications for insurance, we are limited in what can be underwritten by our insurer, Manulife. Currently, members aged 50 and under may apply and be eligible for up to $1,000,000 Term Life insurance coverage through a telephone interview and no automatic lab testing. Underwriting for preferred/elite rates is not available without lab testing. Members under age 50 may apply for a limited amount of Critical Illness coverage through a telephone interview. Disability and POE requires lab testing for all amounts so cannot be underwritten at this time. We are hopeful that Manulife will ease the testing requirements so that more coverage can be purchased through a telephone interview and no lab testing. We will keep you informed as this changes.
  • You may log in to the AMA Member Dashboard to obtain a summary of your coverage.
  • AMA Health Benefits Trust Fund – Members covered under AMA HBTF Core Plan please note that due to the Government of Canada's Official Global Travel Advisory, emergency travel coverage through Alberta Blue Cross will not provide coverage for any claims related to COVID-19. Members are encouraged to visit the Alberta Blue Cross website for more information or call Customer Services at 1.800.661.6995.
  • If you have further questions, please contact AMA’s ADIUM Insurance Services team at 1.888.492.3486 or by email at adium@albertadoctors.org.
Westland Affinity Group Insurance Services – Commercial Office Insurance
  • Members whose clinics have had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic should contact their insurer or broker and enquire about the possibility of income continuation coverage under their commercial office coverage. Members that carry this coverage through AMA-endorsed Westland Affinity Group Insurance Services can contact them at 1.866.846.4467 or affinitygroup@westlandinsurance.ca.
TD Insurance – Home and Automobile Insurance

This guide provides an overview of the recently announced measures available which may be of assistance. Note however that certain of these measures are not yet codified in legislation, and so the information contained herein remains subject to change.

Business Continuity

Please see the following Quick Guide to Business Continuity Planning for Physicians (PDF).

Note: The template for this document was created by the Ontario Medical Association and the AMA would like to thank the OMA for sharing this helpful physician resource.

COVID-19 Related Tips for Employers

(As prepared by legal firm, McLennan Ross)

Note: This document contains a condensed and full version of FAQ’s put together by the legal firm, McLennan Ross. The FAQs are for employers and are meant to be a guideline only. For more specific advice that is directly applicable to your circumstance, please consider consulting with legal counsel.

Guide for COVID-19 Relief for PCNs and Clinics

(As prepared by legal firm, McLennan Ross)

This guide provides an overview of the recently announced measures available which may be of assistance to Primary Care Networks and clinics. Note however that certain of these measures are not yet codified in legislation, and so the information contained herein remains subject to change.

CPSA

The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta has collected helpful resources for physicians to reference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check back often for updates.

ACFP

Visit the Alberta College of Family Physicians website for helpful COVID-19 resources including Tools for Practice and upcoming continuing medical education opprtunities.

Medical Student Support for Health Care Workers

Need help with childcare, groceries, pet care, pharmacy runs or other errands? Medical students from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary are volunteering to help health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information and to sign up for services, please use the respective forms below.

Please note this initiative is led by students, and not affiliated with either of the faculties of medicine.

AMA Staff and Organizational Preparedness

While we are in this crisis situation, the AMA will do its best to maintain business as usual. In an effort to be cautious and responsible, as of March 16 we are transitioning all employees to work from home, consistent with our business continuity plan and measures that many public institutions are taking to facilitate social distancing.

Please do not visit our offices, but please reach us by phone or email. For physicians who would have visited our offices during this period, staff will be in touch to offer alternative ways to participate in meetings.

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.