Some medical services preparing to open in Alberta, but many say PPE still an issue
EDMONTON -- After getting the green light from the province last week, non-urgent elective surgeries will resume Monday. So too will urgent dental visits along with physiotherapy visits and routine eye exams.
Workers will have to follow guidelines set out by their licensing bodies.
“The relaunch will be done carefully, slowly and incrementally,” said Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson when asked about elective surgeries starting.
“AHS will work with Primary Care and specialist groups to continue developing a provincial plan to expand central access and triage for surgical consultation province-wide,” Williamson added.
Since March 17, dentists in Alberta have only been allowed to provide emergency treatment. Starting May 4, dentists will also be able to treat patients for urgent dental care—- procedures such as severe dental pain, tooth fracture, or abscess. The full list of proceedures is available on the Alberta Dental College's website.
Anyone eager to see their dentist for a routine checkup will have to wait until mid May or later.
“As of May 14, provided the Alberta Relaunch Strategy remains on track, dentists of Alberta will be able to provide further services. It is anticipated this will expand to include non-urgent dental services,” said Dr. Randall Croutze, CEO of Alberta Dental Association and College.
Late last week, several dental hygienists told CTV News Edmonton their offices don’t have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on hand.
Croutze said the college is actively working with Alberta Health to address the PPE needs and concerns of Alberta dentists.
Physiotherapy clinics are also set to re-open, although Leading Edge Physiotherapy stayed open during the pandemic to treat essential workers.
Owner Grant Fedoruk said it hasn’t been business as usual. Fedoruk said patients are being screened and asked to wait in their cars instead of the waiting room, staff wear masks and gloves, plexiglass barriers have been installed at the reception, and only 15 people or fewer are allowed inside at once. Staff are also washing any thing a patient touches, are asking patients to wear masks and to wash their hands when entering and leaving the clinics.
“We’re going overboard with our risk mitigation strategy because it’s far better to do too much than to find out we didn’t do enough,” Fedoruk said.
Physiotherapy Alberta’s guidelines regarding re-opening said in-person services must only proceed when the anticipated benefits outweigh the risks.
Fedoruk said virtual physiotherapy with patients has been ongoing the past six weeks but some treatments require one-on-one care, such as acupuncture.
“We have various things that we offer in our clinic that you just can’t do virtually. That’s the important thing to weigh. Are those services that we provide in the clinic essential to help them get over whatever it is that they’re facing? And that’s a decision for each professional to make and our college has to rely on us as professionals to make those decisions” Fedoruk said.