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

Elijah Beauregard, 16, was stabbed in downtown Kelowna on June 27, 2019. He died of his wounds three days later in hospital. His family is raising money to put a memorial bench at his favourite skatepark in Penticton.
Family of teen stabbed to death in Kelowna close to getting Christmas wish

A memorial bench in Penticton for Elijah Beauregard is close to meeting its funding goal

Mara Lake is one of the significant water resources across the Okanagan-Shuswap region that will fall under increasing sustainability pressure as the anticipated population growth for the region continues in this century. (File photo)
Okanagan Valley water supply sustainability reaching a critical point: Global expert

Global expert says Okanagan Basin Water Board offers sustainable path forward

Kelowna's crime rate is growing faster than any other city with more than 100,000 people across the country. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
More help from province needed, says Kelowna mayor following spike in crime

“Community safety cannot rest on the shoulder of police alone,” says Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran

(File photo)
Collision at Hwy 97, Hwy 33 causing delays

At least two patients, northbound traffic affected

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Island man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

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

A GoFundMe page has been launched to assist Frankie and Billie Douglas as Frankie undergoes surgeries related to an illness which leaves her bones brittle. (GoFundMe photo)
Fundraiser supports Shuswap child battling brittle bone disease

A $5,000 goal has been set to assist Billie and Frankie Douglas as Frankie spends time in hospital

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Tina Seminara died in hospital following an alleged brutal beating. Her husband Rod Flavell was later charged with manslaughter.

Most Read