HSNS COVID-19 Information

Contact us if you have questions: info@nshsc.nshealth.ca or 1-888-780-3330

 

Information for Clients/Families/Caregivers

Reminders

  • Please understand that we are doing the best we can given the situation. It is important to us to protect the health and well-being of our client, families and staff during this time.
  • General phone calls - we are currently doing our best to contact clients to book appointments. You do not need to contact us for an appointment. Please call if you have an urgent issue such as suddent hearing loss or sudden change in your communication needs, or if you would like to book a hearing test for your baby.
  • We are screening all clients and those coming with them to the appointment for symptoms of COVID-19. We will be calling before your appointment and asking again when you arrive. If you fell unwell please let us know and we can rebook your appointment.
  • Site Entry - some HSNS locations are within hospitals that may have screening in place. If you are denied entry for some reason, please call your clinician or the HSNS site and we will be happy to rebook your appointment. 
  • Our staff are monitoring their health daily. At times, this may result in a cancelled appointment. We will rebook as soon as possible.

How Care Has Changed at HSNS?

During the pandemic we have offered telehealth (phone and computer) appointments for our clients. As we continue to follow advice from Public Health and our professional association we cannot currently see as many clients as we once did. This will likely change with easing of more restrictions.

  • We will continue to offer telehealth (phone and computer) appointments as a first step. If you do not have access to a phone or computer. Please let us know.
  • What we do in person versus virtual care
    • Telehealth (phone or computer) may involve asking questions about your health or asking questions about a particular condition in order to give your audiologist or speech language pathologist the critical informtion they need to help treat you or your loved one. The questions may be asked by any one of our staff. All your information will be kept confidentials.
    • We ask that you only bring ONE support person with you at this time. Some of our clinical spaces are small and cannot hold more people. We will be asking for name and contact information should we need to follow up about any COVID related exposures.

What will my appointment look like? Preparing for your visit:

  • In Person
    • We are asking all clients, support personnel and chidren over 2 years of age to wear a mask. If you do not have one, we will provide a mask. If you or your child has a medical reason not to wear a mask, please let our staff know. 
    • Upon arriving at the site, you can let one of our staff know you have arrived. They will likely ask more screening questions. Once the questions have been answered, someone will take you into an office to begin your session or we may ask you to wait for a few minutes in a pre-arranged seating area.
  • Masks
    • All clients, 2 years and older are being asked to wear a mask. If you would liike a mask but don't have one, we can provide one for your session.
    • If you or your child has a medical reason not to weat a mask, please let our staff know.
  • Restrictions
    • One caregiver per client. For the time being we ask that only one person arrive with you to your appointment. For parents, we understand that this is a difficult request. Please ask our staff about other options for appointments and follow up.
    • we will be asking for the name and contact information for everyone coming into one of our sties. The reason we will eb asking is that in the evnet that we ahve an exposure to COVID-19, this information will help Public Health contact everyone that may have been exposed in a timely manner.
  • Public Health Measures to keep you safe
    • HSNS is following our approved plan in order to provide in-person services.
    • We will be:
      • Asking all clients over the age of 2 years of age to wear a mask
      • Physical distancing as much as possible
      • Using the right protective protocols
      • Cleaning and disinfecting all equipment after each use
      • Offering virtual appointments

 

Information for Our Partners

What has HSNS done in response to COVID

  • Continue to offer services as much as possible via telehealth appointments
  • Working from an approved plan to transition to in-person services
  • Trained staff on infection control measures including hand hygiene
  • Ensuring that all staff have the necessary protective equipment
  • Cleaning all high touch surface areas between appointments
  • Complying with physical distancing at all our sites

Plan for Resuming In-Person Services (based on phasing and transition documents)

  • Our plan for returning to in-peron care has a numer of levels or phases. Each phase or step will follow public health guidlines to keep you and your loved one safe.
  • It may mean that we will have sites that will be in different phases of service delivery.
  • If there is another outbreak of COVID-19, we may need to move back to closing a site to all in-person services. If this should happedn we will once again work with our partners to offer emergent and urgent care.

Expectations about wait time and triaging referrals

  • During this time, with restrictions in place and to keep our staff and clients safe, we cannot offer the same level of service as we once did. This will mean that some clients will experience longer wait times and we are truly sorry for this. If you are interested in learning about other audiology and speech language pathology options, please search for audiologist, speech language pathology, hearing instrument specialist or hearing aid dispenser for other options.

At this time we will not be offering volunteer opportunities.

 

COVID-19 FAQs

My appointment was cancelled, how soom will it be rebooked?
HSNS has started the process of re-introducing services cancelled due to COVID-19. When your appointment will be rebooked is difficult to say at this time. Clients who were cancelled are getting priority as we transition to in-person services. Clients will be contacted directly when they have been rescheduled.

My baby missed the newborn hearing screening - what should I do?
Parents of newborns who miss their first screening or follow-up should contact Hearing and Speech in their community. Staff will arrange the proper screening tests and follow-up.

What will be different about my hearing/speech appointment?
As with many other services, like hair salons, dentists, gyms, HSNS appointments will definitely look different. Here are some of the things that my be different for your appointment:

  • You will be screening for COVID-19 symptoms by phone and again when you enter the clinic. If you have any risk factors, your appointment will be reschedule.
  • You will be asked to wear a mask when your enter our sites.
  • HSNS staff will be wearing masks as well as other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gloves, safety glasses, face shields, and/or gowns.
  • Your appointment time may be shorter than usual. HSNS wants to keep your time on-site limited in order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. We may do more things oer the phone before your appointment (such as gather information about your concern) and after your appointment (such as share assessment results or plan goals with you) than we normally would.

When will HSNS begin to offer in-home services again?
This is difficult to answer at this time. HSNS is following government Public Health recommendations closely to ensure that both staff and clients/families are safe. We will be closely monitoring any changes in restrictions in order to determine when in-home services can begin again.

I find it difficult to wear a mask, I have breathing problems that make it very uncomfortable?
We ask that your wear a mask for your safety, as our staff may work in the clinic/hospital where they see a number of people, which could potentially put you at risk. You may be able to remove the mask if we can remain 6 feel apart. (Depending on the situation, we can offer phone or telehealth/Zoom appointments or delay the appointment for a later date when restrictions are reduced).

Should I bring someone with me to my Hearing and Speech appointment?
Yes, please feel free to bring 1 (one) person with you. HSNS is asking that only one person attend with a client hlep prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some of our clinic spaces are small and cannot hold many people at one time.

It is important to me that both parents attend the initial consultation/appointment, surely you do not limit to just one of us attending this appointment?
We understand that this is difficult and not ideal for parents as you work together in caring for your child. In a normal situation we would be more than happy to have all of a child's caregivers attend an appointment however due to the need for physical distanding we are unable to accomodate 2 parents in our office space at this time. This is for your safety as per the recommended guidelines by the Department of Health and Wellness. We would be happy to offer a virtual visit to have the results explained. That way you will both have the information from the session. Another options is to delay our services until we can accommodate you. Unfortunately we have no timeline for that right now and it would mean having your child wait longer to be seen.

Why am I only getting a speech appointment every 3 weeks when I used to have weekly appointments?
As we return to having appointments at the office site we are not able to resume fully staffed service due to the number of peopole allowed in (host site) at any one time, need for physical distancing, and time required to clean and sterilize surfaces/high touch areas. This is due to recommended procedures from health officials for your safety. We may be able to offer a phone or Zoom video appointment in between our office appointments if needed.

Should I make and/or wear a mask to protect myself or other from COVID-19?
We are asking all Hearing and Speech clients, support personnel and children over 2 years of age to wear a mask. If you do not have one, we will provide a mask. If you or your child has a medical reason not to wear a mask, please let our staff know. 

The NS Department of Health and Wellness (DHW), following the announcement by the Public Helath Agency of Canda, suggested that Nova Scotians consider wearing non-medical masks for certain activities. It is important to note that this is an additional precaution, in addition to hand hygiene, that may help reduce transmission of COVID-19 in teh community, where physical distancing is not possible. Patients (and their essential support person) who enter a NSHA facility will be screened at the door. 

Patients/Visitors/Essential support people wearing their own non-medical masks need to continue frequent hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and avoid touching their mask and face. Masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19; their main role is to protect otehrs from your own respiratory secretions.

Without knowing how homemade masks are made, we can't speak to their quality.

How can I help protect myself and others from exposure to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses?
To protect yourself and others from exposure to COVID-19 and other resporatory illnesses:

  • Stay at home when experiencing flu-liek symptoms
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Use cough/sneeze etiquette - cough/sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow, not hands - discard tissue in waste basket and clean hands with sanitizer or soap & water immediately.
  • Frequently clean high-touch surfaces like counter-tops, keyboards, phones, light switches and doorknobs, etc.

For more information on staying safe during COVID-19 visit: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/staying-healthy/

How do I know if I should get tested for COVID-19?
The province of Nova Scotia is asking everyone to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID. If you have 1 (one) symptoms (see list of symptoms here), the province would like you to call 811. The person on the call will help determine if there is a need for an in-person assessment. You will need to follow their advice.

Please do not go to a COVID-19 assessment centre without having been referred by 811.

In the last 14 days, since my appointment at HSNS I have learned that I am COVID-19 positive? What should I do?
If you have been seen by Hearing and Speech in the last fourteen (14) days and have tested positive for COVID-19, please call your Hearing and Speech Centre to let us know.

If you have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for results, you should monitor yourself for symptoms (self-monitor) and self-isolate at home. You should recevie a call from Public Health once your test results are known. For more information on self-monitoring and self-isolation, please visit the Government of Nova Scotia COVID-19 website.

What should I do if I have travelled outside of Atlantic Canda (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador)?
The Province of Nova Scotia, under the authority of the Health Protection Act, is requiring anyone who has travelled outside Atlantic Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon return, even if you are symptoms-free. View information from the Government of Nova Scotia on how to self-isolate.

If you think you should get tested for COVID-19, you will need to call 811 to determine if there is a need for an in-person asessment. Learn when to call 811 about COVID-19.

If you need in-person assessment, 811 will refer you to a centre. Don't go to a COVID-19 assessment centre unless 811 referred you.

Where are COVID-19 assessment centres located?
If you need in-person assessment, 811 will refer you to a centre. Don't go to a COVID-19 assessment centre unless 811 has referred you. You can find the most up-to-date list of COVID-19 assessment centres at http://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirus-assessment.

Is HSNS reducing access to some services to prevent the spread of illness and ensure there is capacity in the system?
Many programs and services were suspended to support our response to COVID-19. While we need to continue to respond to COVID-19 by testing, contact tracing and caring for COVID-19 patients, HSNS is starting the process of re-introducing in-person services. We will follow our approved plan and work with our partners. Please have patience.