Following the guidelines of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC, the Audio-Vestibular Clinic suspended in person appointments on March, 15, 2020.
As numbers of daily new cases and hospitalizations due to Covid-19 have consistently decreased in the past several weeks, the Government of BC and the PHO have announced that regulated healthcare professionals may resume in-person practice in a way that promotes safe care to individuals and prevents the spread of the virus.
As per their recommendation, this plan outlines the conditions in which these appointments will be conducted.
An intake phone call will be made and vestibular testing will be scheduled at the discretion of the Audio-Vestibular Clinic. In-person services will only proceed when the anticipated benefits of such services outweigh the risks to the individual and the Audiologist.
Whenever appropriate, services may be entirely provided virtually, through secure and confidential video call.
When in person testing is deemed necessary, the following protocol will be applied:
A) The individual will be asked to fill out the intake questionnaire which includes not only questions pertaining to hearing, dizziness, balance, and general health, but also questions encompassing the BC Covid-19 Self-Assessment Tool. Individuals whose screen reveals risk factors and/or who are presenting any symptoms of Covid-19 will not be scheduled and will be referred to appropriate healthcare services such as a testing centre.
B) A video call will be scheduled to discuss the intake questionnaire and to provide the individual with clear instructions on how the in-person appointment will be conducted. Instructions for payment will be given at this appointment (Interact e-transfer or Credit Card through Square are accepted).
C) After testing is completed at the office, a second video call will be scheduled to discuss the test results and next steps in the individual’s treatment. For instance, during this video call, vestibular rehabilitation exercises may be created, if deemed appropriate, or referrals to other healthcare professionals may be discussed as needed.
This protocol will be followed without exception in order to minimize the time during which the Audiologist will be in close contact with the individual, considering that vestibular testing cannot be conducted while maintain safe physical distancing. For this reason, the individual being tested will be required to wear a mask upon entering the reception area and for the duration of the appointment. Individuals who do not have a mask will be provided with one. In addition, the Audiologist will wear appropriate PPE.
Appointments will be booked with at least 1-hour intervals in between individuals to allow for thorough cleaning of the equipment and surfaces in the room.