Physiotherapists, dentists, dieticians able to open as Alberta’s relaunch rolls on
CALGARY -- Alberta’s relaxation of public health rules continued Monday with several services allowed to open under strict guidelines for cleanliness.
Non-urgent surgeries are allowed to resume, and dentists, physiotherapists, dieticians and occupational therapists are allowed to see patients in person again.
Physiotherapist Breanne Henry says her clinic started getting calls from patients needing care as soon as the province made its relaunch announcement last week.
"Friday was a busy day. My inbox was full all day, I was answering phone calls from patients all day," she said.
Henry works at FixPhysio in northwest Calgary. As people walk into the clinic, they are greeted through plastic barriers by a receptionist wearing a face mask.
Henry wears a mask and gloves while working with her patients and now spends much of her day cleaning equipment before and after each client. She said they used to treat two or three people per hour before COVID-19, but now sees just one person in that time because of the extra cleaning needed.
"The person is typically in here for half an hour and once the person leaves, we wipe down the bed again, wipe down all of the surfaces and we basically need to get ready for the next person to come in," Henry said.
She’s also continuing to offer virtual care for clients who are not in serious need of physical treatment.
Though certain services are allowed to reopen in Alberta, some working in health care are concerned about the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), and if it will be available for clinics that can open.
Several dental hygienists confirmed to CTV Calgary they only have days’ worth of PPE available since shipments to dental offices were halted when the pandemic hit.
"For us moving back into the office, we’re going to need to be wearing masks and having some really clear protocols in place in terms of sanitation and cleaning," said Andrea Holwegner, a dietician who runs Health Stand Nutrition Consulting in Calgary.
"We have the capability to serve people virtually right now and for the interest of public safety, we’re going to continue to stay there until we’ve got a little bit more information and protective equipment," Holwegner added.
The province said it is working with health care colleges and associations to develop proper guidelines for its members. Until then, it’s up to the individual clinics to determine when to safely reopen.
"The relaunch will be done carefully, slowly and incrementally," Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson told CTV News.
"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."