15
05
2020

COVID-19 and Residency FAQ

Dear residents,

As the situation surrounding COVID-19 progresses in British Columbia, questions and concerns have risen regarding what happens when residents and healthcare workers are asked to self-quarantine, or contract the virus. If you are concerned that you are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, please contact 8-1-1, your primary care physician, or your regional health officer:

  • Fraser Health – 1-604-527-4806
  • Interior Health – 1-866-457-5648
  • Northern Health – 1-250-565-2000
  • Vancouver Coastal Health – 1-604-527-4893
  • Island Health – 1-800-204-6166

If you are instructed to self-quarantine at home, this time will be treated as paid general leave of absence.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 during or following this period of self-quarantine, the paid general leave of absence will turn to paid sick leave for the duration until your recovery. Be sure to contact the HA Workplace Centre to report the exposure.

You will need to keep your department up to date during this process, and you will be given documentation to present to your program and department following your recovery period to clear you to return to work.

This page was last updated on May 15, 2020.

PGME has a thorough FAQ page on COVID-19 during residency we encourage all residents to routinely check.

  • When should I be tested for COVID-19? (April 24)

    All individuals with new respiratory or systemic symptoms compatible with COVID-19, however mild, should be tested. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, odynophagia, rhinorrhea, nasal congestion, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, or loss of appetite.

  • What happens if I am working with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

    All advised safety precautions must be taken to ensure your health. Updated health guidelines can be found on the BCCDC website.

  • What do I do if I came in contact with a presumed or confirmed case? (May 15)

    If you believe that you have come in contact with COVID-19, please visit and follow these BCCDC guidelines.

  • What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

    If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you are to follow the procedures listed here and contact the HA Workplace Call Center to report the exposure.

  • What if I am concerned about working during this outbreak?

    It is understandable to be concerned during this time. However, residents who are not showing symptoms or are not in contact with a qualified medical practitioner about potential exposure, should be attending work as per usual.

  • Do I have the right to refuse unsafe work?

    Yes, all healthcare employees have the right and responsibility to speak up when they have concerns on unsafe work. If you reasonably believe that the work you are being asked to perform constitutes an undue hazard, you must stop working and report your concern and reasoning to your supervisor, who will then investigate your concern. Here is the flowchart for the WorkSafeBC process on right to refuse unsafe work. If at the end of the process you still feel that what is being asked of you constitutes as unsafe work, WSBC will step in to conduct an investigation.

    If you are reporting unsafe work, you must provide an explanation and your reasoning.

    In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, please note the following additions to the process:

    • the employer is to review your age and health in the context of your workplace environment and specific concern(s)
    • the employer is expected to review your workplace procedures in the context of COVID-19 as they relate to access to PPE, hand washing stations made available, written safety procedures, etc and determine if the availability is sufficient to address the concern(s)
    • the employer is to be up to date with the precautions advised by the Provincial Health Officer and BCCDC
    • the employer is to review and address anything new to your regular workplace that may cause these concerns, including available training or protocols on COVID-19
    • if you are concerned about performing your regular duties, the employer is to provide you with additional training or information to address your concerns

    We understand the concerns you may have in regards to working at this time. However, at this time, residents are expected to continue their regular duties to patient care across the province.

  • Do I need to self-isolate if I travelled outside of Canada? (May 11)

    If you have returned from outside of Canada and are a not essential to the delivery of patient care, you should self-isolate at home for 14 days. You do not need to be tested for COVID-19 unless you are showing symptoms, and may return to work after the 14 days.

    If you are essential to the delivery of patient care, you can return to work and self-monitor for any symptoms. You are asked to wear the proper PPE.

    Residents essential to the delivery of patient care are determined based on their facilities, and operational basis. You must confer with your Program Directors to determine if you are considered essential to the delivery of patient care.

    If you have returned from a COVID-19 affected region outside of Canada, you are to follow the Federal Order to self isolate for 14 days.

  • What happens if I go on vacation?

    As per advice of both the BC PHO and Canadian government, all non-essential travel outside of Canada at this time is not suggested. If you choose to travel outside of Canada during this time, we cannot guarantee what the situation and policies will be like upon your return regarding self-isolation/quarantine, pay, etc.

    Furthermore, Canada has advised all travellers outside the country to return ASAP.

  • What happens to my cancelled vacation time? (May 11)

    If a resident has cancelled their vacation in the 60 day period following March 13, 2020, the cancelled vacation time is able to be rebanked into the next academic year. If a scheduled vacation falls outside of this 60 day period, the scheduling will be left up to the discretion of the program.

    If you are a graduating resident who has cancelled a pre-scheduled vacation set to occur between March 13-May 12, you may be eligible for vacation payout upon your graduation following this criteria (from the PGME website):

    i) The resident cancelled vacation within the period from Friday, March 13, 2020 to May 12, 2020 to assist with the COVID-19 response.

    AND

    ii) The Residency Program determines that the Resident’s cancelled vacation cannot be rescheduled before June 30, 2020 for the following reasons:

    a. The resident is essential for service provision as part of the COVID-19 response (i.e., the resident is providing services that are considered critical to preserving life and health public safety; this includes residents who are filling service gaps in their home service or who have been redeployed to areas of patient need) until their graduation date at the end of June, 2020.

    OR

    b. In order to meet or for the Residency Program to assess the resident’s competencies, the resident must be actively engaged in residency training until the end of June, 2020.

    HEABC’s expectation is that all vacations that were cancelled between March 13, 2020 and May 12, 2020 and that do not meet the criteria in i) and ii) above will be rescheduled before the end of this academic year. If there is a compelling reason why this is not possible, please contact the PGME Office.

  • What is happening regarding the spring examinations?

    All examinations for MCCQE2, Royal College, and CFPC have been cancelled and moved to the fall.

    The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC recognizes that the exams have been postponed. If you are a graduating resident, you may be eligible for a provisional registration. The College is currently working on an action plan, and if you have not heard from them by April 1, you are advised to email them at postgrad@cpsbc.ca or call them at 604-733-7758 to ask for an update.

    To find the latest information of COVID-19 in Canada, you can visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website. UBC has also released a thorough FAQ regarding residency during this time that is available on their website. We advise all residents to read it and remain up-to-date regarding the COVID-19 situation.

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 604-876-7636 or info@residentdoctorsbc.ca.

  • I have an underlying medical condition; what should I do?

    If you are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 while living with an underlying medical condition, you can request reasonable medical accommodation from your program to move you into a safe working environment to reduce your exposure. This may include working from home. If no reasonable accommodation can be made, you can choose to remain at home using sick leave.

  • I am currently pregnant; what should I do?

    If you are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 while pregnant, you can request reasonable medical accommodation from your program to move you into a safe working environment to reduce your exposure. This may include working from home. If no reasonable accommodation can be made, you can choose to remain at home using sick leave.

  • Can I work from home?

    Only residents who have been directed to self-isolate and not attend work, and considered viable by their programs, can arrange with their programs to facilitate working from home.

    Residents who are not showing symptoms and have not been instructed to self-isolate can request work from home arrangements with their programs.

  • I live with someone who is immunocompromised; what can I do?

    If you are living with someone who is immunocompromised and are concerned about going to work, you can use your vacation leave, lieu or flex days. If you have no paid leave left, you can take general unpaid leave.

    UBC is generally confident that waivers can be used so as to not extend a period of residency if a resident takes leave during this time, assuming that the resident is otherwise considered able or competent to finish their residency. Individual circumstances may require more detailed consideration. We expect that efforts will continue to be made to keep residents as on track as possible, but please be aware that the colleges have different time frames for the waivers of training and you should follow-up with your college to see yours.

  • What options are available in regards to childcare or caring for sick family members? (March 31)

    If you need to remain at home to care for your children or a family member sick with COVID-19, you can use your vacation leave, lieu or flex days. If you have no paid leave left, you can take general unpaid leave. The BC government has also launched a childcare matchmaking service for children up to five years old of essential workers.

    UBC is generally confident that waivers can be used so as to not extend a period of residency if a resident takes leave during this time, assuming that the resident is otherwise considered able or competent to finish their residency. Individual circumstances may require more detailed consideration. We expect that efforts will continue to be made to keep residents as on track as possible, but please be aware that the colleges have different time frames for the waivers of training and you should follow-up with your college to see yours.

  • My schedule has been changed to shift work. How does this affect my call submissions? (April 6)

    We are aware that several programs have changed their schedules to shift work. Shift work is considered regular work and does not constitute a call shift. For more information related to calls, including what constitutes a call, click here.

  • Out of Province Electives (April 29)

    From the UBC PGME FAQ:

    “Out of Province Electives at UBC may recommence effective July 1 2020 if there is willingness from the program to support out of province trainees. Similarly UBC PGME programs may allow existing residents to pursue out of province electives. All trainees wishing to do electives from July 1 are advised to have back-up or alternate plans, should the elective need to be cancelled.”

  • Redeployment of Residents

    UBC PGME has released a memo on the redeployment of residents during this time after conferring with the Tri-Party Committee. Residents may be asked to fill in gaps due to other residents being quarantined, but are not expected to work outside of the call provisions set out by the Collective Agreement.

    These short term redeployments have been agreed to not extend residents’ training programs. As individual cases may arise, we advise formal records to be kept during this time.

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author: Sasha Zalyvadna