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-isolate, or contract the virus. If you are concerned that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please receive a test at one of the many available locations in BC.

If you are instructed to self-isolate 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-isolation, up to 10 days of sick leave can be recorded. For absences longer than 10 days, you will need to apply to your Residency Program for Medical Leave pursuant to the PGME PolicyBe 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 November 25, 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 do I do if I have symptoms?

    Residents with flu-like symptoms should take sick leave to recover at home, and consider being tested for COVID-19. If you have been directed by provincial health authorities to enter self-isolation, you will receive documentation when you have been cleared to return to work. If you have not been directed to self-isolate, you should return to work once your symptoms clear up.

  • 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? (November 3)

    Yes. All travellers coming into Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days, including healthcare workers. There is an entire process required by the government of Canada from travellers coming into Canada that needs to be started pre-arrival.

  • What happens if I go on vacation? (November 3)

    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.

    There is an entire process required by the government of Canada from travellers coming into Canada that needs to be started pre-arrival.

  • What happens to my cancelled vacation time? (September 29)

    All eligible residents have now been paid out for their cancelled vacation time.

    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.

  • 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? (November 25)

    If you are living with someone who is immunocompromised and are concerned about going to work, you can approach your Program about what leave is available to you. UBC has released a memo of leaves available to residents.

    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? (November 25)

    If you need to remain at home to care for your children sick with COVID-19, you can use paid compassionate leave of up to 3 days. C-19 leave (unpaid with continued benefits) leave can also be taken to care for a child or a family member sick with COVID-19. UBC has released a memo of leave types available to residents.

    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 (November 23)

    Electives have, for the most part, resumed. Exceptions continue to apply to Internal Medicine and medicine sub-specialties. Please visit the UBC PGME for the full details.

  • 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.

  • MCCQEII Exam (October 29)

    The QEII fall sessions have been cancelled. RDoC continues to release statements about the state of the exam through RDBC. Please check your emails from us, titled “Exam Updates”, for the most up-to-date information.

  • Royal College Exam 2021 (November 23)

    The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has released a memo pertaining to their 2021 exams. Please view it here. For any questions, contact exams2021@royalcollege.ca.

  • Temporary Pandemic Pay

    The Ministry of Health has confirmed that eligible residents will receive the TPP on October 23, 2020. There is nothing residents need to do to follow-up regarding the TPP. For more information, visit the Government of BC website.

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author: Sasha Zalyvadna