COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Updates2020-05-11T15:17:10-06:00

COVID-19 FAQS (UPDATED MAY 11)

In 2020, regulated members have been called upon to fill an incredible need during a global pandemic. This need came upon the profession quickly and gave no one the time to adequately prepare for the magnitude of response required.

Each of you are being tested with every new announcement and are developing skills in resiliency, as well as in planning and executing contingency strategies. These are skills or competencies that cannot be taught through formal continuing education – they must be learned through experience and practical application, and they are just as valuable as formal education.

We recognize that regulated members are involved in a variety of roles within the healthcare structure and that each of you have stepped up in whatever way you’ve been asked to respond. This experience has resulted in learning, greater understanding and skill development for all members – regardless of your specific practice setting.

I, along with Council and the Competence Committee agree this is not the time to stress over meeting additional Continuing Competence (CC) requirements. In recognition of the addition time spent learning and updating skills during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Alberta College of Paramedics officially approves:

COVID-19 approved for 60 credits (20 hours continuing education)
for the 2019/2020 CC Cycle.

To claim the COVID-19 credits: 

Log into your profile in the member portal and select approved CE course from the continuing education activity type to add COVID-19 to your CC record. This will meet your requirements for the 2019/2020 year. Click here for more information on Adding COVID 19 to your CC record.

All members who claim these credits will receive a brief feedback form
to provide key learnings and takeaways from the COVID-19 experience.

The College will email confirmation to you to keep in your records for this activity.

Approving credits in this manner falls within the legislative authority granted to the Registrar and Competence Committee and is supported by Council. This solution also requires no changes to the CC program, is fast and easy to implement, requires no additional resources (human or financial) and most of all, recognizes your incredible work during this time.

We appreciate your patience as staff and the committee worked through all aspects of this issue to arrive at a reasonable, appropriate and cost-effective decision to address this year’s requirements. The College is already working on ways to address CC for the next cycle, in the event the pandemic persists and continues to create issues for members seeking continuing education (CE) opportunities.

If you have any questions, please email CC@ABparamedics.com.

Stay safe out there,

Tim A. Ford
Registrar

In Alberta, requests for PPE must now be submitted online at https://xnet.gov.ab.ca/ppe

Requests for PPE should be pooled at the organization level (for example, one request per clinic).

In support of COVID-19 response efforts, the government has opened an online portal for Albertans seeking to offer their products or services, including, but not limited to:

  • Human resources, like volunteers and paid personnel.
  • Personal protective equipment, like face masks.
  • Food, water and lodging (hotels, motels and churches).
  • General supplies such as fuel, blankets and pet supplies.
  • Telecommunications products or services.
  • Equipment such as generators, forklifts, lighting and signage.
  • Service offers such as child care, consulting and pet care.
  • Transportation, such as passenger vans, buses and aircrafts.

Those seeking to offer their support can do so at www.alberta.ca/covid19offersprogram.

If you are a regulated PCP or ACP, section 16(2)(c)(i) of the Paramedic Professions Regulation permits you “to insert or remove instruments or devices beyond the pharynx.” This would include the insertion of a swab into the nasal pharynx for the purposes of testing. As with any restricted activity, it is each member’s responsibility to ensure they have received the proper training and are competent to perform this procedure. PCP and ACP practitioners can refresh their training on nasal swabbing through Alberta Health Services (PROV LAB); or if you are not an employee of Alberta Health services, you can also access this training free-of-charge through the Alberta Paramedics Association website here: https://albertaparamedics.ca/covid-19/?v=707f3a40153b.

The regulation does NOT permit EMRs to perform this procedure for the purposes of testing. The College is working closely with government to determine if there is a need and a method to temporarily revise this restriction and will advise members appropriately of their decision.

This is an unprecedented time for all regulators and we are already consulting with government and other colleges on how best to move forward on a number of regulatory requirements, including how to reasonably manage continuing competence, without compromising safety.

We don’t know how long the pandemic will last and our goal is to make the best, informed decisions possible – as continuing competence is an important way all healthcare providers maintain currency of knowledge in practice.

We continue to discuss appropriate revisions to this year’s requirements and decisions will be immediately communicated directly to all regulated members.

We encourage you to focus on staying safe and healthy, and continuing to provide excellent care to Albertans during this time. Thank you for your patience and trust as we work diligently to determine next steps. Please continue to check your email and the COVID-19 web page for the most up to date information.

Any practitioner who meets registration requirements at any of the three designations (EMR, PCP, ACP) may apply – free of charge – for a three-month courtesy license. This license can be extended to six months if we are still experiencing a need for additional healthcare providers.

If you are recently retired or recently left the profession and want to help out, please contact registration@ABparamedics.com to discuss your eligibility for the courtesy register.

We are automatically extending all provisional registrations by six months to help facilitate the reschedule of any cancelled exam.

At this time, the College has suspended all future provincial registration examinations until further notice.  We are actively working on solutions to be able to offer an approved registration exam as soon as possible, but like all other regulators and exam providers we are just not sure when we will be able to do so.

If you would like to be contacted directly with information regarding the availability of the next exam, please email exams@ABparamedics.com with your name and email address. We will ensure you receive the most up to date information.

We are automatically extending all provisional registrations by six months to help facilitate the reschedule of any cancelled exam.

We are working with educators to help navigate the issues of cancelled classes, practicums and volunteer opportunities. This is an unprecedented situation and we are working through this as quickly as possible. Your educators will receive information as it is available and will communicate with you. Please also watch this web page for updates.

Registrar’s Message: Challenging Times

Yes, the title of this message might be a bit of an understatement. The challenges that each and every one of us face these days are unlike any we have experienced before, and it looks like there might be a few more months ahead of us before we start to give thought to returning to a normal routine.

It isn’t lost on me that each of us are impacted directly, yet differently, by this pandemic. Those working in industry are facing the realities of an economic downturn that has left many out of work. Those in the public sector delivering direct care to Albertans are dealing with PPE supply issues and the potential for a staffing crisis looming if the virus continues to spread. Our educators and students face uncertainty about completion of their programs, and gaining employment. And many members who are also managers and business owners have had to develop pandemic response plans while adhering to social distancing requirements.

Why am I pointing out the obvious? Because I believe that if there is any group of healthcare professionals completely equipped to rise to this challenge before us, it is paramedics – hands down. As a profession, we have struggled for decades to grow and evolve our trade, to bring equitable compensation for comparable education and to garner the recognition of our place in healthcare from our colleagues in other health professions and our government. These challenges are but a few examples of our resiliency and how our profession has risen to the occasion and been successful in overcoming challenge.

Many of us lived through the SARS and H1N1 pandemics, and while we can draw on the lessons learned from those events, the challenge we are facing with COVID-19 is dramatically more impactful. Yet even though we are experiencing more stressors than perhaps ever before in our professional careers, we are seeing some fantastic examples of our members rising above and facing this challenge head on.

  • Our educational stakeholders have shifted their programs to online delivery and are developing innovative new methods of determining competency so that students can complete their education in a timely manner and enter the workforce.
  • Our industrial stakeholders are reaching out with offers of equipment and staffing resources, and many are developing and implementing pandemic plans to ensure businesses can continue to provide essential services.
  • Our members who are involved in direct care delivery are continually learning and adapting to new processes and procedures, all the while providing exceptional care throughout this crisis.

Probably the most significant example of rising to the challenge is watching the support and compassion that each of you are providing to your colleagues. Sharing accommodations, offering child care, even the creative ear saver face mask clips – these are just a few great examples of how you all are pulling together to overcome the side effects caused by this pandemic.

As a regulator, we are also facing a number of new challenges that have been brought about by COVID-19. The legislation that we must work within has not changed, meaning our regulatory requirements remain. This is challenging, as you can imagine, because these legislative requirements do not have a contingency plan for a global pandemic. Our staff have all been working diligently to develop new processes and identify strategies to ensure we maintain compliance with the regulations while trying to alleviate some of the impact on you, our members. Here are just a few of the significant shifts in processes we have been working on in the last four weeks:

  • We have built a process to allow retirees, lapsed members, trained military and out of province practitioners to be registered quickly to help alleviate the demand for EMS staff
  • We are coordinating efforts from a vast number of stakeholders to ensure members’ needs for PPE across the province are met
  • We are working to address the situation for students who are unable to finish their practicums so that they are able to get to work
  • We continue to work with the Competence committee and Council to address members’ competence requirements and make necessary adjustments
  • We are in constant communication with the Alberta Health Emergency Operations Centre and the Provincial Coordination Centre to identify staffing and equipment resources and demands around the province
  • We have created a dedicated page on our website where all information related to COVID-19 is posted for quick and easy reference

We know we still face challenges with regards to exam delivery and educational requirements, and we will continue to work with our stakeholders to ensure we develop the best solutions to these issues.

As we have mentioned, we know there needs to be adjustments to CC requirements. Many continuing education opportunities that were approved are no longer available, members are working long hours and are dealing with many added stresses at work, but also in their person lives. As CC still falls in the regulatory requirement I talked about above, we are working through this to ensure that any adjustments will continue to meet the legislative standards, while setting more realistic expectations under the current circumstances. I am committed to sending a direct notice to all members once we have news of any changes. We will communicate this to you all immediately and trust that we are working through every scenario we can think of to meet our requirements and provide members with relief in this area.

My message to you all in these times is to remember our roots as a profession. We are strong. We are resilient. We are all working at the challenges in front of us – from industry to public sector, stakeholders to staff. Trust that we all have what it takes to serve this province in this time of need – because we do. And I know we will do it with the strength, professionalism and determination our profession is quickly becoming known for.

Stay safe and let’s all watch out for each other,

Tim A. Ford
Registrar

President’s Message: Unprecented Times

I know during this unprecedented time that many of you are all dealing with difficult, and possibly overwhelming, circumstances due to the escalation of the pandemic in our province and as a result of the decisions that have had to be made to keep Albertans as safe as possible.

Be assured, all operations of the College will be maintained; however, a remote work facilitation has been implemented for our staff. At this time, the College is not accepting outside visitors to the office and requests everyone communicate through email and telephone during this unprecedented time.

Additionally, the College is in the process of cancelling the March 27-29 Provincial Registration Examination. All those who are scheduled to write this exam will be notified and those who are provisionally licensed will automatically receive a six-month extension to help facilitate a reschedule.

You are out there every day providing care as frontline workers and are among the provinces greatest assets. There is immense pressure on health care workers and the health care system that already feels spread thin most times. There is no doubt paramedics will rise to the occasion and the call to service – it is what we do. Inside of this and in those quiet moments I implore you to ensure you are taking all precautions you are able to that will help ensure your own safety and wellbeing. What that means is different to all of us, I stumbled upon this resource www.tenpercent.com  and their “Corona Virus Sanity guide” it’s the practice of mindfulness, the reviews are good and the following is strong, further to that they offer free access to healthcare workers. There are a number of government provided resources available to assist if you find yourself or your loved ones affected by the virus. If you require assistance, please visit: www.alberta.ca/coronavirus.

As the situation unfolds, the College will continue to communicate through emails, telephone, the website and social media platforms. We will continue to work to answer all of your questions and concerns as best we can.

Stay healthy and safe,

Dusty Schlitter
President