What does the College consider to be essential vs. non-essential service?
Service can only be considered essential in cases where the patient’s/client’s health or function would considerably decline if service was not provided. All other services, while an important part of one’s overall health, would be considered non-essential during this time.
You will need to use your professional knowledge and judgement to honestly determine whether a service is essential before providing it. The Chief Medical Officer of Health has directed that the only allowable exceptions are for time sensitive circumstances to avert or avoid negative patient/client outcomes, or situations that would have a direct impact on patient/client safety.
We expect further guidance from Ontario Government on essential vs. non-essential service, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to questions of what is/is not essential. Listed below are some questions to consider when making clinical judgements and ethical decisions about continuing service with patients/clients:
• Have I prioritized patients/clients according to their individual risk?
• What are the possible consequences to the patient/client if I do not provide the service?
• If a patient/client does not receive service at this time, will they deteriorate and be at risk for hospitalization or further use of the healthcare system?
• Can I meet some of the patient’s/client’s needs using alternative means for service, such as virtual or phone check-in, as a way of bridging service?
• Can I work with my other health system partners and referral sources to identify clients with urgent needs?
• Does my organization have pandemic tools and resources to help me make decisions about service priorities?
• What is the impact on my patient/client if I were asked to work elsewhere in the healthcare system to respond this pandemic?
If you determine it is necessary to provide service, please ensure you are following the College’s Practice Standard- Infection Control
and the Ontario Ministry of Health's guidance for health professionals