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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The cost of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam has grown to $16 billion and the completion has been moved up a year to 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BC Liberal energy critic blasts ‘lack of transparency’ on Site C

MLA Tom Shypitka says Site C going ahead is a ‘good thing’, blames NDP for mismanagement

Volunteers from the Elk River Alliance cleared 14 car batteries from the Elk River near Elkford this week. (Photo contributed)
Elk River Alliance to move to more holistic environmental monitoring

The details of the ERA’s 2021 program will be discussed at the AGM next month

The Kitimat RCMP responded to false alarms, an apartment fire and more between Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Sparwood backs campaign to study Surrey RCMP impact

The City of Surrey is home to the largest RCMP detachment in the province

Brent Bidston is the president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Black Press file photo.
RDEK ponders funding for Angel Flight East Kootenay

The district is considering funding for operations or to eventually help acquire a larger plane

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

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

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read