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Faculty of Health Sciences information about COVID-19

As a faculty that is involved in healthcare, our primary focus in any outbreak is the health and safety of the populations that we serve, and maintaining the working capacity of the healthcare institutions and organizations where we work. Given the rapidly-changing epidemiology of COVID-19, we are using this page to keep Faculty of Health Sciences faculty, staff and students up to date on our protocol.


Please note that, beyond Faculty of Health Sciences policies, faculty, staff and students are also subject to hospital and clinical regulations. Please ensure that you are up to date on the protocols and regulations of all institutions for which you are providing service.


» Updated Coronavirus Information from Queen's University

Questions?

The Faculty of Health Sciences has set up a Command Team that will adjudicate specific events and situations to determine whether they fall under the intent of our protocol. A joint Faculty-hospital exemptions committee has also been established to adjudicate scenarios where an individual is seeking an exemption from the travel protocol. In both cases, the committees will consult with Dr. Kieran Moore from our local public health authority as needed and will respond to inquiries with a directive on next steps.
 
Please send any questions to fhscomms@queensu.ca and they will be directed to the appropriate committee.

FHS Return to Work Information

Queen’s face mask recommendations and requirements on campus

In response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Kingston region, Queen’s University is strongly encouraging employees and students currently on campus to wear a face covering in all common areas, particularly in spaces where maintaining physical distancing is challenging.

To support this important safety measure, Queen’s has purchased two cloth face masks for each employee. These masks will be distributed to employees as they are permitted to return to campus as part of a phased return to regular operations. Please refer to guidelines for current information on who is currently allowed to be attending the Queen’s campus.

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Resources for faculty members, managers and staff

Resources for managers

Managers responsible for faculty and staff who are authorized to return to campus must review all resources provided below

 

FHS COVID-19 Working Group Principles

The Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University will use these guiding principles to steer our community towards effective decision-making practices and strategic planning considering the current global pandemic. Accepting that the pandemic poses a risk of illness, these principles have been established to mitigate this risk to the best of our ability. The Faculty will be mindful of these uncertain times and remain flexible and responsive to student, staff, and faculty needs. We believe that our comprehensive well-being includes the availability of positive educational and social interactions.

  1. The Faculty of Health Sciences is committed to the collective health, safety and comprehensive well-being of its students, staff, faculty and community.
  2. The Faculty of Health Sciences will maintain our standard of clinical, administrative and academic excellence.
  3. The Faculty of Health Sciences will seek inclusive and equitable solutions to barriers in order to minimize adverse impacts on our members.
  4. The Faculty of Health Sciences will ensure all operating procedures align with recommendations from Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, & Addington Public Health as well as provincial guidelines.
  5. The Faculty of Health Sciences will ensure regular communication and accountability to the central leadership at Queen’s University.
  6. The Faculty of Health Sciences will communicate frequently with its students, staff, and faculty to ensure everyone is well informed with respect to our activities.
  7. The Faculty of Health Sciences will engage in ongoing reflection on and updating of current processes and decision-making strategies to ensure the continual safety of its personnel and activities.

Information related to research

The Faculty of Health Sciences is planning for the restart of some research in laboratories and facilities. The policy, process, general timelines, and a request form for restarting research can be found here. The office of the Vice-Principal (Research) has also produced a guidance document for principal investigators/faculty members completing a ‘request to undertake research on-site’ form. Requests will be reviewed by both University and FHS leadership, as well as hospital leadership where applicable.

The restart of research operations is occurring in a staged manner that requires appropriate scheduling within labs and facilities, across various floors, and from building to building to allow proper social distancing. We must be vigilant in monitoring, both actively and passively, the health of trainees and staff on a daily basis, and for the purpose of contact tracing. Additionally, we are ensuring appropriate support systems are in place (e.g., custodial, procurement, shipping & receiving, security). 

Individuals who are on-site to conduct approved research must adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures below.


Please regularly monitor the VPR COVID-19 website for further information. 

Please contact Dr. Steven Smith, steven.smith@queensu.ca at any time with questions.

Wherever possible, principal investigators, research staff and trainees should continue to work from home until further notice. For those who must physically be on site to conduct research, please adhere to the following protocols.

  1. Self-Monitoring and Self-Reporting
  • Individuals should self-monitor their health on a daily basis and report to their respective supervisor prior to building/laboratory entry.
  • If feeling unwell, individuals should remain at home until a full 24 hours has passed since their symptoms ended and should be in regular contact with their supervisor.
  • Individuals should inform their supervisor if they have been in contact with unwell individuals or if they have traveled outside the region.

  1. Contact Tracking
  • Principal Investigators need to maintain a daily record of the times that each research member is in the respective research building conducting necessary on-site research. A weekly summary from each research group is to be provided to the Office of the Vice-Dean Research (gladys.smith@queensu.ca) by end of day Friday effective Friday, June 5, 2020, to allow contact tracking in the event of positive SARS-CoV-2 test. This information will be forwarded to the Vice-Principal (Research).
  • A standard document for collating weekly contact tracking data will be circulated to all principal investigators.

  1. General Hand Hygiene & Masks
  • Individuals should wash hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Disposable gloves worn in the laboratory should not be used in halls and common areas. It is recommended that disposable gloves not be used in common areas of the building, as government guidelines have recommended hand washing to be more effective in stopping the spread of the virus.
  • As per KLF&A guidelines, individuals may consider using a face covering, such as cloth masks or bandanas.

  1. Signage, Entry, Movement and Exit from Research Building
  • COVID-19 related signage at the entry of and throughout the building should be respected and strictly adhered to.
  • Main doors may be key or FOB access only.
  • Be aware of the number of individuals entering the building and practice appropriate physical distancing (2 metres) as there may high entry volumes at specific times during the day (e.g., morning or mid-day).
  • Where appropriate, use hand sanitizer upon entry.
  • Follow physical distancing guidelines (2 metre separation) upon entry.
  • Elevator use should be limited to those individuals with significant mobility issues.
  • Movement throughout building
  • Follow physical distancing guidelines (2 metre separation). This includes working at lab benching or in desk spaces that are in close proximity to one another. Adjustments may need to be made to work spaces.
  • Individuals should wash hands regularly with soap and water in laboratories and/or washrooms or via alcohol-based hand sanitizer available on each floor.
  • Individuals should only be present in a building to conduct critical research studies. Once completed, they should leave the premises.
  • Note where the appropriate building exit points are located.

Information for residents and clinical fellows in postgraduate medical education programs

With dual roles as healthcare providers and as trainees, the duties and responsibilities of residents and clinical fellows differ from those of students.

Recent news & updates for residents and fellows

What are the principles of resident service during a pandemic?

The role of residents during a pandemic is unique from that other learners, so the following principles have been developed to support the ongoing and appropriate integration of resident service and education.

Are there updated screening and self-isolation guidelines?

Yes.  New guidelines have been established to provide guidance on managing the risks associated with the movement of learners between rotations in various locations.  All learners should become familiar with these new COVID-19 Screening and Self-Quarantine Guidelines.  Highlights include:

  • only trainees who have been outside of Canada will have to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Canada and before starting work
  • travel within Ontario and across Canada does not require self-isolation, but you must be able to pass the KHSC screening questions in order to be allowed entry to the hospital for work 
  • you will be able to move between Queen’s affiliated teaching hospitals (e.g. Belleville, Peterborough, Humber) without having to self-isolate. If new information is shared by these sites, it will be distributed to all programs and trainees.

What should I do if I suspect that I have a COVID-19 infection?

Please take the following steps:

  1. If you are not seriously ill, call your health care provider and tell them about your symptoms. After hours, or if you do not have a health care provider, contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Do not visit your health care provider or a walk-in clinic without calling ahead.
  2. If you are seriously ill, go the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital and advise of your recent travel or contact.

If you are required to stay at home or miss class, please follow standard procedures and report to your program office.

As a resident or clinical fellow, should I provide direct care to patients who have a suspected COVID-19 infection?

Yes. residents and clinical fellows are expected to continue to provide patient care where COVID-19 is suspected or under investigation:

  • COVID-19 is considered suspected in patients with symptoms (febrile upper respiratory illness NYD)
  • COVID-19 is considered under investigation if symptoms develop in a patient who has recently travelled from an affected area, or who has come into contact with an individual with confirmed COVID-19 infection

As a resident or clinical fellow, when should I disengage from providing patient care?

Residents and clinical fellows will be expected to continue to provide direct care to patients on their service in cases where COVID-19 is presumptive or confirmed, with the appropriate protection and supervision.

  • COVID-19 is considered presumptive if local serologic testing is positive
  • COVID-19 is confirmed when local positive testing is confirmed at the central national testing facility

The expected level of care delivery may vary across programs based on the skill set of the resident and the goals, objectives and/or competencies of the specialty. Whether the delivery of care by the resident or clinical fellow should discontinue is at the discretion of the attending physician, department/division chief and Program Director.

Further information about the role of residents and clinical fellows in public health emergencies can be found in the Council of Ontario Universities’ Residents and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Guidelines which can be accessed here: https://cou.ca/reports/residents-and-public-health-emergency-preparedness-guidelines-2019/

As a resident or clinical fellow, what should I do if I suspect a COVID-19 infection?

Residents and clinical fellows who suspect a COVID-19 infection in a patient should report this immediately to their direct clinical supervisor.

As a resident or clinical fellow, what infection control guidelines should I be aware of?

All residents and clinical fellows should use the following guidelines:

  • Always practice good hand hygiene, cough etiquette and stay home if you’re sick
  • If you are a working in the hospital, ensure you have undertaken N95 mask fitting
  • Follow all hospital/clinic IPAC directives regarding infection control practices and be aware that practices and guidelines may change frequently

Where can I get more information about the role of residents and clinical fellows during public health emergencies?

The Council of Ontario Universities’ Residents and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Guidelines can be accessed here: https://cou.ca/reports/residents-and-public-health-emergency-preparedness-guidelines-2019/

What is happening with qualifying examinations?

Please refer to the latest updates from the Medical Council of Canada here.

What is happening with CFPC Examinations?

The latest information about certification and examinations is available here.

What is happening with RCPSC Examinations?

The latest information on Royal College examinations is available here.

My examinations have been cancelled. What should I do with my exam study leave?

Residents should return to their home program and regular clinical duties in the interim. Any certifying exam study leave missed would be granted again when the exam schedule is clarified. Residents will be notified should the status of examinations change.

Do I have to go to work during a pandemic or crisis?

Residents have dual roles as both trainees and health-care providers. As members of the medical profession, we are all called upon to provide care to the best of our ability during a crisis. Sometimes this means taking on elevated personal risk.

Individual residents also have the right to refuse unsafe work. Certain residents may be considered higher risk, including those who have chronic respiratory disease, those who are immunocompromised, those who are pregnant, and those who cohabitate with any of the above. You are not expected to serve if you fall ill or become a vector for infection.

Am I entitled to personal protective equipment?

As frontline health-care providers you are entitled to all necessary PPE, and should be considered along with other health-care professionals for early access to preventative measures like vaccines. You have the right to refuse work if protective measures are inadequate.

Will residents be involved in Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures (AGMPs)?

The following general guidelines have been established for situations occurring when aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMPs) are planned or anticipated to be performed on patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Only properly trained medical personnel with proper PPE should be involved in these procedures. Residents should not be involved if there are other opportunities for learning the competencies involved in these procedures. Residents should consult with their Program Directors for program-specific guidelines.

Is there anything I should be doing now to prepare?

Keep your N95 mask fit card on you at all times. All residents are expected to be up to date with your mask fit test as previously outlined by the PGME Office. If you know that you cannot be fit properly due to religious or health reasons, contact your site director or program director now to understand how this will affect you work and training. Familiarize yourself with all site-specific protocols at your training site.

Do the PARO-CAHO Collective Agreement rules still apply?

Every attempt will be made to respect the conditions outlined in the agreement. Work hour limits can be waived during a pandemic situation, if absolutely necessary.

Can I be redeployed from my regular rotation?

In emergency situations, residents can be deployed to areas of greatest need. Activities must remain appropriate to level of training and scope of practice and must be adequately supervised. It is possible that you may be quickly retrained to provide care outside of your usual scope. Patient safety is always the highest priority.
Principles of Redeployment of Residents and Fellows in Times of Exceptional Health System Need

What happens to my course of training?

Queen’s University’s goal is to make every effort to continue academic programs for residents with minimum disruption. Your site director, program director or program coordinator will issue updates in the event of any disruption to academic and clinical schedules. Every effort will be made to provide alternatives in the event of clinical or academic disruption that is appropriate to training level and program resources. If you are redeployed, consideration will be given to awarding credit for extraordinary service. All efforts will be made to avoid an increase in length of training. Where necessary extensions of training as a result of COVID-19 will be supported by PGME.

Training impact will be assessed on a case-by-case basis however it is reasonable to anticipate training extensions as the two week isolation in addition to the antecedent vacation are likely to result in inadequate assessment during the impacted experience. While we will try to mitigate this as best we can it will often not be possible. Also, all international Queen's related business/education travel is cancelled, including electives.

Could there be interruptions in salary or vacation?

Salary, benefits, and stipend entitlements continue during any pandemic. Due to extraordinary patient care needs, certain vacation requests may be denied or cancelled. Vacation days will continue to accrue as usual.

Residents should be aware that if they make a decision to travel for personal reasons and are subsequently required to self-isolate, then there may be salary implications.

I’m scheduled for an international elective. Will I still be able to go?

No. The Faculty of Health Sciences has suspended all academic or work-related travel outside Canada for all faculty, staff, and students.

Am I allowed to go on an elective? 

Yes, but there may be some restrictions. Some programs have imposed a moratorium on electives for blocks 1-3 for the 2020-2021 academic year. You must ensure that you check with the host program to determine if they are able to accommodate an elective. In some cases, where electives have been cancelled, you may be able to ask for an exemption from the host program. Your home program director would be required to write you a letter of support. 

Will mandatory rotations occur in 2020-2021?

Yes. If you have a mandatory rotation you will be able to complete this at the host institution. Be sure to check the host institution’s screening and self-isolation requirements. 

Are there screening and self-isolation guidelines for trainees returning from electives? 

Yes. Please refer to the new screening and self-isolation guidelines (June 2020).

I am currently on an elective. Do I need to return to Queen’s?

If you are currently on an elective in Canada, you should be aware that your the host institution may cancel your elective at any time. As the situation is changing rapidly, you are encouraged to monitor travel health notices and you may wish to end your elective experience early.

If you are currently on an elective outside of Canada, you should be aware that the Government of Canada is urging you to return home without delay while commercial options are still available. 

You should review the Travel and Event Protocol for the Faculty of Health Sciences for information about travel and mandatory self-isolation.

In addition, for those who work at KHSC, contact Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) to be screened for symptoms of a respiratory infection.

I have vacation time booked and am planning to travel outside of Canada. Will I still be able to go?

The Government of Canada is warning against all non-essential international travel and is urging citizens to return home without delay.

International travel by residents at this time is irresponsible and may have repercussions for other residents and staff in their program. You are strongly advised to consider your role as a physician and act both professionally and responsibly. Should you need to self-isolate for 14 days upon your return, your salary may be affected because of this personal decision and your training may be extended.

If you need a letter for travel cancellation or insurance purposes, please complete the request form on the Travel and Event Protocol for the Faculty of Health Sciences website.

Where can I find further information from Kingston Health Science Centre (the paymaster for all residents and fellows)?

Watch for further updates, FAQs and resources on the COVID-19 site of KHSC Now. Follow the link off the home page.

What wellness resources are available?

There are a variety of wellness resources available on the PGME Website.

What are my best sources of information as it relates to my role as a resident or clinical fellow?

This is an evolving situation and updates will change regularly. Your best sources of information regarding your training are:

  • Your Program
  • The Postgraduate Medical Education Office
  • The Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre
  • PARO

What are the latest COVID-19 work alerts from PARO?

The latest COVID-19 updates from PARO are available here.

I expect to successfully finish my training on June 30. Will I be allowed to practice now that certifying exams have been postponed?

Yes. The Medical Regulatory Authorities (the CPSO in Ontario) are working to develop a process which will allow residents who have successfully completed their training and are eligible to sit their certification examinations to receive a licence allowing them to practice and receive a provincial billing number so that they can work. Please review the CPSO’s COVID-19 FAQs for Physicians for information on registration and licensure.

FHS graduate programs: update on fall 2020 program delivery

Despite the evolving situation with COVID-19, the Faculty of Health Sciences is conscious of the need to make concrete plans for the delivery of our graduate programs during the fall term. In making these plans, the Faculty has been working closely with KFL&A Public Health and senior leadership at the University.

For the Fall 2020 term, we anticipate that all graduate programs in the Faculty of Health Sciences that are normally delivered on-campus will shift to a hybrid of remote delivery and on-campus activity. Graduate programs that are normally offered remotely with periodic on-site delivery will shift to full remote delivery for the Fall 2020 term, including: Aging & Health (GDip, MSc, PhD), Health Quality (MSc, PhD), Nursing (PhD), Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Management and Innovation (GDip) and Rehabilitation and Health Leadership (DSc).

We continue to work closely with KFL&A Public Health on plans for re-opening research laboratories and facilities. The operational details are finalized and being rolled out in a coordinated and staged manner guided by public health policies. As graduate students begin to return to these settings, they will be provided with clear direction and standard operating procedures on how research can be conducted in a safe manner, in accordance with public health guidelines. Graduate students are not to enter the buildings that their laboratories are housed in until they receive notification from their supervisors that the reopening plan for their laboratory has been approved, along with the operational details of that plan.

Many details for program delivery in the fall continue to be developed, but have not yet been finalized. We will continue to keep you updated as guidelines and protocols are put in place. 

If you have time-sensitive questions related to your program, please reach out the following individuals: 

 For questions related to funding, please reach out to the School of Graduate Studies.

Essential Services Declaration

The Faculty of Health Sciences leadership team has been working closely with the university, our hospitals and KFLA Public Health to make plans for the gradual return of some in-person activities.

In making these plans, safety is top of mind: the safety of our students, patients, staff, faculty, the hospital environment, and clinical staff. We have also been working hand in hand with the Provost’s office to ensure coordination between our faculty and the rest of the university. Further, any return to in-person activities will need to adhere to the principles as set out in the current provincial guidelines.

Limited reopening of offices
The following offices have opened, with limited staff capacity, in order to support clinical activity across FHS:

  • Office of the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Office of the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer
  • Office of Professional Development and Educational Scholarship
  • Office of Postgraduate Medical Education
  • Office of Undergraduate Medical Education 

Any staff and faculty who have not been identified to return to work on campus will continue to work remotely until July 24. The faculty will share further information leading up to this date.

Return of Research Activity
In coordination with the Office of the Vice principal of Research, our Vice-Dean Research, Steve Smith is leading a process for a staged return of laboratory activity. This process is already underway. Research leads who are making plans for a return to on-campus activity should be in touch with Steve and visit https://www.queensu.ca/vpr/covid-19/research-facility-start-and-requests-site-access

Return of Student Activity in Clinical Placements
Our three schools have been working with our Public Health unit, our hospitals and our community partners to determine the timing and safety considerations of our students returning to clinical rotations. In lifting the suspension of clinical placements, we anticipate that students will be resuming clinical activity towards the end of May or in early June, depending on the program. As our students return to these in-person activities, we will adhere strictly to Public Health and provincial guidelines, with safety being our biggest priority.

Additional information:

Queen's Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) COVID-19 research impact information

Should you perceive the need for clarification or an exception to what is outlined above, please send an inquiry/request to fhscomms@queensu.ca. We have established an adjudication process for educational and research activities, with the team meeting frequently to provide direction.

Travel & Event Protocol

Travel

The Faculty of Health Sciences has suspended all academic or work-related travel outside Canada for faculty, staff and students. Individuals considering personal travel for any reason are strongly discouraged from doing so.

 

For any student, staff or faculty member returning from travel outside Canada
All faculty, staff and students, upon return from travel outside Canada, must self-isolate for 14 days before returning to work/class. This is in accordance with the Government of Canada’s recent directive.

 

For those who have returned from travel outside of Canada within the last 14 days
For faculty and staff members who have returned from travel outside Canada within the last 14 days, you must complete what is remaining of 14 days of self-isolation from the date of your return to Canada.

 

For those who have upcoming personal travel outside of Canada
Managing our collective healthcare provider workforce properly is of paramount importance. To this end, we strongly recommend following the Public Health Agency of Canada’s advice to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Exemptions

For faculty members, we recognize that this may result in non-trivial clinical service disruptions in some circumstances. If a significant negative impact is anticipated as a result of the absence of the faculty member, and if the particular circumstances of the travel and the work environment collectively pose a low risk to patients and colleagues, then exceptions to the 14-day self-isolation directive may be issued through an exemption.

If you perceive a need for an exemption, please email fhscomms@queensu.ca with details on your specific circumstances. These requests will be adjudicated by a joint hospital-university committee and responses will be provided as quickly as possible.

What if I feel unwell but haven’t been travelling?

We can never be 100% certain who is sick around us with any virus. Follow the same infection control practices that you would at home and work: clean your hands frequently, cough into your sleeve or tissue that you discard, avoid touching your eyes/nose/mouth and avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are feeling unwell, stay home. If you work in a clinical or hospital setting, please follow the directives of the institution where you are working.


Should events like research days, conferences and guest lectures be suspended?

Yes. Research days and other events like conferences and guest lectures should be suspended (cancelled or postponed). 

Should committee, departmental or intra-departmental meetings be cancelled?

Meetings with more than 10 people in attendance should be suspended or held online. In-person meetings with less than 10 people may proceed, using the following precautions:

  • Attendees should practice meticulous hand hygiene
  • Attendees should practice appropriate social distancing in the room to the extent possible
  • Attendees should self-screen per the protocol outlined by Public Health and the Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Where possible, provide a remote option for those who are not able to attend in person

Questions?

The Faculty of Health Sciences has set up a Command Team that will adjudicate specific events and situations to determine whether they fall under the intent of our protocol. A joint Faculty-hospital exemptions committee has also been established to adjudicate scenarios where an individual is seeking an exemption from the travel protocol. In both cases, the committees will consult with Dr. Kieran Moore from our local public health authority as needed and will respond to inquiries with a directive on next steps.
 
Please send any questions to fhscomms@queensu.ca and they will be directed to the appropriate committee.