With the recent news that Health Canada has authorized PAXLOVID for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 at high risk of developing serious disease, there is some hope that treatment can be made available as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of the start of symptoms. Ontario is expecting 10,800 doses by the end of the month and while details around where they will be disseminated are still being worked out, it looks like the Clinical Assessment Centres (see below) may be the first point of access. As we wait for more information, we wanted to share some important guidance updates and resources to support you.
COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Centres
To help further conserve needed capacity for people requiring emergency services, Ontario Health has requested that a number of COVID-19 assessment centres across the province expand their scope to include clinical services to support people with known or suspected COVID-19 infection who meet certain criteria. These clinical assessment centres build on the COVID, cough and flu clinics and other influenza-like illness clinics established in the fall. They will support assessment, diagnosis, and disposition planning for people whose symptoms cannot be safely self-monitored at home but are also not experiencing severe symptoms that would require emergency care.
To support this pivot, please find attached:
- Memo from Ontario Health to primary care providers explaining the role of the COVID-19 clinical assessment centres
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document that also explains the difference between the COVID-19 clinical assessment centres and COVID-19 assessment centres
- COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Centres (CACs): Information for Primary Care Providers from the Centre for Effective Practice
If you have any questions about clinical assessment centres in your region, reach out to the Vice President, Clinical Programs in your region:
* A reminder that if you have already existing pathways for referrals to your local clinical assessment centre (especially in Northern and rural settings), you should continue to use them.
New patient resources at ConfusedAboutCOVID.ca
The Department of Community and Family Medicine (DFCM) at the University of Toronto and the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) have created a new series of patient resources that teams can use to help patients make sense of the latest guidance around COVID/Omicron.
The resources include plain-language questions and answers about COVID management, testing, isolation and more. They offer patients and the public trustworthy advice about protecting their health and how primary care providers can help. Find out more at ConfusedAboutCovid.ca or to access them individually here:
- I’m not feeling well. How do I know if I have COVID? What should I do?
- I think I have COVID. When should I call my doctor?
- Do I need a COVID PCR test?
- When should I use a Rapid Antigen Test?
- I’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID. What should I do?
- I’m worried about the new variant. How do I keep safe during Omicron?
Updated Guidance Documents
Here are some updated guidance documents from the Ministry of Health over the last week:
- COVID-19 Case Definition – MOH, updated Jan.17, 2022
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet: For Children (age 5-11) - MOH, updated Jan. 18, 2022
- COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge- MOH, updated Jan. 13, 2022
- COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose Recommendations- MOH, updated Jan. 13, 2022
- Medical Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccination- MOH, updated Jan. 12, 2022
- After Your COVID-19 Vaccine- MOH, updated Jan. 11, 2022
- If you are having issues accessing COVaxON or need to register additional staff/volunteers you can contact OntarioMD directly for information and support: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Just a reminder also that OMD runs ongoing training sessions on COVaxON - information and registration can be found here.
- COVaxON accounts are automatically deactivated after 30 days of inactivity so please check in advance of your clinic to ensure that all necessary staff/volunteers are reactivated if some time has passed.
Upcoming COVID-19 related webinars
- Therapeutic Management of COVID-19, Thursday, Jan. 20, 12:00p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
- The General Medicine Quality Improvement Network (GeMQIN) will discuss recent developments in treatment of COVID-19 in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. Register here.
- COVID-19 Community of Practice for Family Physicians: Responding to the Omicron surge, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
- Join the OCFP and the DFCM in their 37th session of 'Changing the way we work'. Register here.
- Vax for the Future: Equity, Community and Trust. Community of Practice | La vaccination pour l’avenir : équité, communauté et confiance, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Join this Alliance-hosted virtual event showcasing best practices and lessons learned for improving vaccine confidence, featuring panellists from member centres (TAIBU CHC, Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto, Woolwich CHC, and Somerset West CHC). Register here.
- Quality Rounds: The Reality of Virtual Care: Lessons From The Pandemic, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 pm.
- Over the last two years of the pandemic, the popularity and usage of virtual care has increased dramatically. Join Ontario Health as they hear from patients and providers on the enablers and barriers to delivering and using virtual care during the pandemic, as well as exploring the future opportunities of virtual care in Ontario. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Courtney Paxton at Courtney.Paxton@ontariohealth.ca.
- Primary Care and COVID-19 Support CoP, Feb. 9, 2022, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 am.
- With a focus on COVID@Home monitoring and Post COVID-19 Clinical Guidance for Primary Care. Hosted by Ontario Health. Click here to register.
While the ‘all hands-on deck’ to immunize as many individuals over 50+ as possible over the two weeks in December may have ended, teams are being encouraged to please participate in vaccine efforts in your community if capacity exists, including providing COVID-19 vaccines to your patients in clinic and counselling individuals who have not yet received their vaccine.
If you are still struggling with getting vaccines in your teams or want to participate in your public health vaccine clinics but do not know where to get assistance, please contact your PHU operational contact. If you’re having any issues, please let us know ASAP so we can work with the Ministry to provide a resolution.
We are expecting an updated Primary Care Guidance document very soon which will provide updated guidance on how to manage in-person care with updated IPAC, screening and testing guidance. We will ensure we share that as soon as it is available.
Once again thank you for all you are doing to keep your patients and the community safe. If you need any assistance or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Yours in Good Health,
The AFHTO Team
(in collaboration with the Primary Care Collaborative)