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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.

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.

Do you need a letter for travel cancellation or insurance purposes?

Please complete the following form and we will process your request.
Name

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

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.

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 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?

From the Medical Council of Canada (March 13, 2020):

As the COVID-19 situation in Canada and abroad continues to evolve rapidly, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I session scheduled from April 15 to May 15, 2020, and the MCCQE Part II scheduled for May 2 and 3, 2020.

At this time, we are asking candidates for the MCCQE Part I to wait before changing their scheduled exam appointment with Prometric. Further information on new dates will be provided as soon as we can. We understand the impact of this postponement on all candidates and will keep you updated as decisions on future exam sessions are made.

The MCC worked collaboratively with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), who are also postponing their upcoming exams, to ensure this decision considered both the risks as well as the impact on candidates of postponing our respective exams. By postponing, we are seeking to ensure that we are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to be mindful of the impacts of this virus on the medical community, and to ensure the safety of all involved in our exams.

With this in mind, we have reached out to the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) and the Medical Regulatory Authorities (MRA), for reassurance that there will be no unnecessary delay in either providing provisional registration or extending educational licences for candidates impacted by the MCCQE Part II postponement. Candidates are encouraged to reach out to the relevant MRA regarding this.

We are closely monitoring the situation and will be announcing the new examination schedules as soon as reasonably possible. The timing of new examination schedules is under detailed review and will be guided by recommendations from public health authorities and the necessity of ensuring the health and safety of all involved. 

What is happening with CFPC Examinations?

From the College of Family Physicians of Canada (March 13, 2020):

After careful consideration, the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) has decided to postpone the spring 2020 Certification Examination in Family Medicine. This postponement applies to both the written (SAMPs) and performance (SOOs) components of our certification examination at all locations. The CFPC has been monitoring the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19 across Canada and around the world and has determined that postponing the exam is the most prudent way to ensure the health and safety of our candidates, examiners, examination staff, and volunteers.

This decision has been made in consultation with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Medical Council of Canada, which are also postponing their respective examinations. This is consistent with the advice of public health authorities to limit large public gatherings. We are also aware that many health care organizations and faculties of medicine have instructed their stakeholders to avoid non-essential travel. The CFPC is especially mindful that potential exposure to COVID-19 in the context of the examination could result in the quarantining of essential health care providers at a time when their communities need them the most.

The CFPC will announce the new examination schedule as soon as is reasonably possible. Among other things, decisions about the timing of the new examination schedule will be guided by recommendations from public health authorities and the need to ensure the health and safety of candidates, examiners, examination staff, and volunteers. As stated in the CFPC statement from March 10, 2020, exam fees paid for the spring 2020 sitting of the examination will be transferred (without penalty) to the next sitting.

The Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada and/or provincial colleges of physicians and surgeons are the authorities on the requirements for provisional and full licensure and/or registration to practise medicine in Canada. Should you have questions about licensure, you should contact your provincial college.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your understanding. If you have questions about the postponement of the examination, please contact ccfpexam@cfpc.ca.

What is happening with RCPSC Examinations?

From the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (March 13, 2020):

With the World Health Organization’s declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly evolving situation in Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has had to postpone all exams, including the written exams for March and April, which will have an impact on oral exams this spring.

We regret having to make this decision and the understandable impact this may have. We are working with local university partners and resident groups (RDoCS and FMRQ) to deliver the exams as soon as feasible with no additional cost to you.

We are communicating with the provincial licensing Colleges to notify them of this change. The provincial Colleges have processes to license individuals that have completed training and have yet to take the exams. We will continue to work with them so to assist our candidates.

We worked collaboratively with the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) to ensure this decision considered both the risks as well as the impact on candidates of postponing our respective exams. 

The decision was made to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, in keeping with other national organizations.

We will update you as to our progress no later than April 1st, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact ceo@royalcollege.ca.

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.

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.

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 am currently on a mandatory rotation at another university. Will this be cancelled?

At this time (March 16 2020), Queen’s University has not recalled its trainees from mandatory rotations elsewhere. You should be aware, however, that your host institution may cancel your rotation at any time. 

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?

COVID-19 Work Alert #1

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.

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.

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.

Update Regarding 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.

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.

Return of Staff to the Workplace
As you all know, for FHS, the spring and summer are a time of significant activity for many of our staff, faculty and learners. As such, we are exploring ways in which we can return some of activities to our regular places of work on campus. We are not quite there yet, but we are monitoring provincial guidelines and working with central administration to determine the timing and cadence of a safe return, for some our staff, to the workplace. For the time being, we will be extending our current level of staff operations until June 1st. 

Additional information:

Queen’s Human Resources FAQ for staff

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.

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.