COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information
A public health pandemic has been declared in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Most of us have never seen a public health crisis such as this and it can feel overwhelming and scary. There not only is a lot of information available, there is also a lot of misinformation making its way through informal channels such as social media. It is imperative that ACSLPA members keep themselves abreast of rapidly changing information as it may affect practice and how we conduct ourselves as individuals.
ACSLPA members should utilize reputable information when making decisions about their practice and personal situation. See the Resources section below for some sites that members might want to access for up-to-date information. Be sure to be aware of the information specific to Alberta and Canada.
Members should be sure to follow the instructions provided by Alberta’s Public Health officials. As the information is changing rapidly, there are a few key things to keep in mind (which are not expected to change).
- Stay at home if you are feeling unwell.
- Practice Hand Hygiene. While always important, hand hygiene must be a priority at this time. Use soap and water to wash your hands, and if that isn’t available, use hand sanitizer. Instructions for handwashing can be found here: https://www.who.int/gpsc/tools/GPSC-HandRub-Wash.pdf
- Practice Respiratory Hygiene. Cough/sneeze into a tissue and immediately dispose of that tissue and then wash your hands. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow (away from your hands).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practice Social Distancing. This means staying 1-2 metres away from others. It means staying away from large gatherings.
- Stay informed.
SLPs and audiologists will need to follow the direction of their employers regarding the services they provide or are expected to provide. They may be called upon to work in a different capacity or to do different work than is normal. This is a societal response to this pandemic and all individuals have a role to play to protect fellow Albertans and Canadians.
SLPs and audiologists will need to make decisions about whether services will continue to clients. As it stands currently (March 16, 2020 at 12:00), SLPs and audiologists should weigh the risks in a responsible way. Determining the risk to clients and the risks to the provider will both need to be taken into account when making these decisions. Employing agencies will also be providing direction to their staff.
Virtual Care (Telepractice) may be a viable option for ongoing services. More information can be found in ACSLPA Standard 1.7 Virtual Care and in the ACSLPA Telepractice Guideline. ACSLPA members will need to consider if they are positioned to provide virtual care appropriately, including the implementation of appropriate safeguards when sending/transmitting information virtually and how documentation can be performed.
Infection Prevention and Control
ACSLPA members must remain vigilant in their infection prevention and control (IPC) practices at this time. For more specific information, refer to the new ACSLPA Advisory Statement: Infection Prevention Control: Reusable and Single-Use Medical Devices. The advisory statement includes links to the Alberta Health standards which have been adopted by ACSLPA. Note that for our purposes, toys and similar objects are considered medical devices and need to be cleaned and disinfected according to the Alberta Health standards.
ACSLPA has a business continuity plan that will ensure core services can continue to function even if there is a shut-down of the office or if staff are required to be away. All ACSLPA staff are equipped to work remotely and ACSLPA can continue to provide practice advice to members during this unusual time. Some less urgent pieces of work may be put on hold if needed until things settle down. Note that it may take longer than usual for staff to respond to routine enquiries as they may be busy responding to critical questions/issues that are arising. It will be easiest to reach staff by email rather than by phone.
Members who operate private practices or employing agencies may want to be thinking about their own business continuity plan. The following resource may help you in your planning.
Canadian Centre for Organizational Health and Safety: Business Continuity Plan: Infectious Diseases
Members may want to access the following websites for information, in addition to their local news channels/stations and municipal websites.
Alberta Health Services
Public Health Agency of Canada
World Health Organization
March 16, 2020