Beth Bates, physiotherapist and co-owner at Lab Health Physio, performs tele-rehabilitation services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lab Health was offering the service for free before April 2. (File contributed/ Mark Dale)

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Health care workers will now be able to access mobile health services after insurance providers for hundreds of thousands of frontline staff in B.C. made concessions.

Many health care workers in the province are covered collectively by an umbrella policy at Pacific Blue Cross (PBC). Under this blanket term there are many different employers and contracts in place with variations to individual plans, but it generally refers to health care workers. The Health Benefits Trust (HBT) is the benefits provider and administrator for this policy. HBT helps administer and process these plans on behalf of employers and plan sponsors, ensuring that employees receive the benefits they are entitled to once claims are sent to Pacific Blue Cross.

Up until Thursday, April 2, these policy holders were not eligible for video treatments, known as telehealth, from health specialists like physiotherapists and chiropractors despite the fact that most, if not all, of these paramedical clinics are closed.

That meant hospital staff seeking treatment for an injury would have no one to speak with about continued care.

ALSO READ: Doctor concerned about COVID-19 ‘overpowering’ Island’s health-care system

This pushed some businesses, such as Greater Victoria-based physiotherapy clinic Lab Health Physio, to offer telehealth services for free to health care workers until other options became available.

“We decided to offer it for free because we want to make sure our health care workers can still access physiotherapy care while clinics are temporarily closed,” explained Mark Dale, co-owner of Lab Health. “They are working hard for all of us and we wanted to do our small part to help keep them functioning physically in the days and weeks ahead. Tele-rehab is a great way to still provide trusted physiotherapy care while maintaining physical distance.”

As of this week, however, Pacific Blue Cross extended that any plan members who currently have physiotherapy and/or chiropractic care coverage will be able to access them via telehealth, along with counselling, psychology and naturopathy, which were already covered.

According to the April 2 announcement, this coverage will continue until June 23.

Changes from Blue Cross were quickly aligned with plans administered by the HBT. The HBT is a benefits provider and administrator that helps process these plans, making sure employees receive the benefits they are entitled to, and by using Pacific Blue Cross to reimburse employee claims.

ALSO READ: Camosun College to produce more than 9,000 face shields for Island Health workers

“This extension into tele-health will be provided for the next three months and is in direct response to COVID-19. This access supports social distancing while allowing for the continuance of care during the pandemic,” said Elisabeth Whiting, vice president of operations and administration at HBT. “These treatments must comply with the respective Colleges and their practice guidelines as well as PBC requirements for the practitioners to be reimbursed.”

Now, everyone with plans administered through HBT will have these telehealth appointments – but only for pre-existing conditions. PBC will only cover subsequent visits, not new injuries.

Whiting noted that if a health care worker does receive an injury on the job, the claim would need to go through WorkSafeBC.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Just Posted

Helping our community during COVID-19

A high school student’s perspective

The buoys are back in town

Watershed Wanderings column by Lake Windermere Ambassadors

Invermere council okay with ‘reverse grad march’ idea

Nothing finalized and complications aplenty, but Invermere council agrees to grad march idea

101-year-old man targets 101 block fundraising walk for food bank

A centenarian in Invermere has embarked on a new adventure to raise money for the food bank.

Wings Over the Rockies encourages nature viewing during pandemic

Three local photographers and Wings supporters offer nature viewing tips.

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read