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)

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

Maple Ridge city hall (The News files)
Maple Ridge turns to public for consultation on transportation plan

Mayor encourages all residents to participate in ‘important engagement process’

Ethan Page, left, and Nicky Walton received Excellence in Arts Scholarship Awards in music. (Special to The News)
Port Haney Artist-in-Residence Aaron Moran. (Special to the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows News)
Personal reflections of Maple Ridge are needed for new public art project

Residents of all ages, backgrounds and abilities welcome to share stories and poems

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Maple Ridge elementary school exposed to COVID-19

Exposure event at Glenwood elementary the seventh in past two weeks

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Upset by being called an ‘idiot’

Maple Ridge writer disagrees with majority on COVID safety protocols and their impacts

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, at press conference Monday. (Submitted photo)
Crime Stoppers receiving $200K from province for ‘Guns and Gangs’ tip line campaign

Executive director Linda Annis broke the news Monday morning in Surrey

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read