COVID-19: Information for Registrants
18.03.2020

Dear Registrants,

Many of you have reached out to us expressing concerns about COVID-19 and the risk of continuing to provide opticianry services. This is an unprecedented situation for all of us. We appreciate your concerns at this time of uncertainty, and we will do our best to respond as quickly and accurately as possible. We have put together some essential guidelines that will hopefully address the most frequently asked questions from our registrant base.

Canada has an opportunity to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prevent further infection, if we respond quickly. We are being strongly guided to employ social distancing measures and self-isolate wherever possible. The College of Opticians of British Columbia recommends that opticians limit all non-essential patient interactions until further notice. What is defined as essential is up to the discretion and professional judgment of each individual optician however, we strongly suggest you employ the highest level of caution and consider some of the following guidelines.

Virtual Care
Conducting telephone, email or video appointments is a great way to reduce the amount of physical contact you have with your patients. This can include refilling prescriptions for eyeglasses and contacts or discussing other concerns about eye health.

Business Practices
COBC does not have jurisdiction over business operation and therefore cannot advise you to close your business or remain open. Following the social distancing guidelines is recommended so please take that into consideration when making your decision. You may consider:

  • Scheduling necessary appointments in a way that reduces the number of patients in the store at any one time
  • Post notices on your website, social media, and in store requesting patients who are feeling unwell to reschedule
  • Have a policy in place for potential employee illness and quarantine
  • Have a plan in place for any government mandated closure of retail locations
  • If you decide to close or operate on reduced hours, please provide a notice on your website and in your store to advise patients on how they can contact you, if necessary.

Practice Advice
If you do need to treat patients in person, we continue to offer the following guidelines for reducing the risk of infection to yourselves and your patients.

  • Triage patients upon arrival to assess their risk level.
    • Are they experiencing any of the specific symptoms of COVID-19?
    • Have they recently returned from travel outside of Canada?
    • Have they interacted with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have the virus?

If they answer yes to any of the above, suggest that the appointment is rescheduled and refer them to the Government of Canada Pubic Health advisory page about COVID-19 as it is recommended that anyone falling into any of the above categories should self-isolate for 14 days.

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before and after treating a patient. You can refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada for Hand Hygiene Practices in Healthcare Settings.
  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing and wash your hands immediately after
  • Keep your workplace well stocked with hand soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues and use proper waste disposal
  • Sanitize work surfaces and equipment between uses, especially those that make direct contact with patients such as slit lamps and pupil measuring devices. A diluted bleach solution or alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol are the most affective. Most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. We recommend following the CDC guidelines for disinfection of surfaces.
  • Sanitize frames after patients have tried them on using anti-bacterial soap and water or a disinfecting wipe that is safe for the frame material. If frames cannot be cleaned, please consider removing them from frame bars for now.
  • Display public health advisory notices in your dispensary to remind and inform customers of the symptoms and risks. 

You may also consider the following after assessing the risk to the patient, using professional judgement and fully informing the patient that these are not best practices but advisable at this time. If any of these actions are taken, full documentation in the patient record is required:

  • If measurements need to be taken, maintain as much distance as possible by using previous measurements from the patient’s record, if applicable.
  • Measure PD using a penlight and ruler rather than a pupilometer, placing the optician further away from the patient.
  • Dispense glasses without adjustment. The patient should be encouraged to return later for the adjustment.

Renewal
If you have not already done so, please complete your renewal as usual as staff will still be processing submissions during this time. COBC is mandated by the provincial government of British Columbia and we do not have the authority to move or extend our renewal period. We understand that some of you may not be able to work as a result of the current pandemic but if you wish to stay registered as a Licenced Optician, you must renew. We will let you know immediately if this changes.

Continuing Education and Criminal Record Checks
If you need to submit your completed credit form to update your most recent continuing education cycle, please scan and email, or fax it and it will be processed as usual. If your criminal record check needs to be updated and you have been instructed to have your ID verified in person, please contact our staff to discuss.

Our Office
COBC has been advised by the management of our shared office space to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. As of today, March 17th, we will be running the office remotely until further notice and we endeavor to maintain an efficient response time to your inquiries.

You can still call the office during regular hours if you wish to leave a message, as we will have access to voicemail and will return your call or get back to you via email as soon as possible. You can also email us at reception@cobc.ca for assistance. Please do not visit the office during this time as there will not be staff available to see you.

We are consistently monitoring the situation, particularly the guidelines being recommended by government and official health agencies and have created a dedicated COVID-19 page on our website that will be updated whenever new directives or resources become available. Please check it regularly. We appreciate your patience and co-operation at this time. 

From Lisa and the COBC Team.


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