Patient safety during COVID-19
At Hillgreen Oncology Acupuncture & Herbs, patient safety is our first priority. As we work with many cancer patients and immunocompromised people, we have been working tirelessly to keep on top of COVID-19 research. We only re-opened the clinic when we felt confident we could meet public health regulations and best practices from across North America for keeping everyone safe. Please see below for details and feel free to contact us with more questions!
[NOTE: If you are a new patient, yes we are now accepting new patients… please click here for more information!]
How are we keeping everyone safe at the clinic?
- Secure building, empty elevators, reduced traffic: You’d be surprised how quiet the clinic is now – we are heavily restricting appointments and do not allow anyone to just walk into the clinic. The doors are secured and you must wait outside. We will phone you at the time of your appointment to do a final screening and update chat (so that we don’t have to talk much inside the treatment room together), and ensure the waiting room is clear. You should be the only patient entering at any given time and if you happen across anyone else in the clinic, we have plenty of space at both locations for social distancing.
- For the Midtown Toronto location, the building is actually locked and we phone you when your appointment starts, then come down and get you. We’ll buzz you up the elevator one at a time so that you’ll never be with a stranger in the elevator.
- For the Vaughan location accompanying visitors are only allowed if needed for mobility or language reasons, and will also be screened before entering.
- For the Northumberland County location, it’s a solo office, so you should not be inside at the same time as any other patients. If you arrive early, please knock and be prepared to wait outside if we’re not yet done with the sanitation routine.
- Masking, screening, hand, and shoe hygiene: Everyone who enters the building will be screened for any symptoms, COVID exposure, and will have their temperature taken. You will have to sanitize your hands on arrival. At Midtown location, you’ll have to wear shoe covers before entering the clinic. Of course you will be asked to wear a mask the whole time you are in the clinic, to protect yourself and others. We’re doing tongue diagnosis via photos whenever possible, so that you don’t have to remove your mask.
- Personal Protective Equipment: We have gone to great lengths to source appropriate PPE. Staff will be wearing masks (N95 usually), face shields, clinic shoes, and scrubs. At the Vaughan location, we also wear gowns. Gloves will be worn as needed.
- Sanitation, disinfection and ventilation: We will go above and beyond the legal requirements for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting between each and every patient. We use an approved, hospital-grade disinfectant on the treatment tables and all surfaces that patients may touch. We chose a disinfectant is also non-toxic and has a pleasant smell. When possible, we alternate rooms to allow the room to ventilate even more between patient visits. Ventilation is a priority at both clinics and has been optimized in the building design. At both clinics, we use HEPA filters to improve air exchange. We disinfect washrooms regularly as well.
- Linens and laundry: Dirty linens will be kept securely. Linens are always changed between patients, and laundered on hot according to public health recommendations.
- Contactless payment: Please speak to your practitioner or the receptionists to place your credit card on file for future billings. This way you can just exit immediately after your treatment.
- Clinic Safety Plan: Your safety is our first priority. We have attended professional development webinars on clinic safety during COVID-19, and read all Ministry of Health, Public Health, and CTCMPAO guidelines thoroughly, creating a 20 page procedures document our clinic will follow. We have also completed Public Health Ontario’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) trainings
- Clean Needle Technique: As licensed acupuncturists, we will continue to follow CNT, a standard technique for infection control during acupuncture.
- Keeping ourselves safe and healthy: We are all taking great care at home to maintain our own health using self-care measures, physical distancing, and staying home as much as possible. We screen ourselves daily for symptoms and temperature and get tested for COVID as appropriate. If you have more questions or concerns about this, please ask your practitioner.
- Clinic safety meetings: We will also keep having regular safety protocol meetings at both locations, to ensure everyone using the clinic is on the same page.
- Clinic environment: We are working with our landlords at both spaces to make changes to promote physical distancing and easy disinfection.
Booking Your Appointment
- New patients: All new patients will have their initial appointment done by phone/online (whether the free consult or initial intake).
- Check-ins by phone/online before acupuncture: If you haven’t seen us in 6+ weeks, please consider booking a 15-30 minute session by phone/online before your next acupuncture appointment, so that we can get caught up before you enter the clinic. Otherwise we chat with you for a few minutes on the phone before you enter the clinic, to reduce the amount of time we’ll talk together in the same room.
- Herbal, nutrition, self-acupressure, and treatment plan progress: In-person appointments will focus on the acupuncture. Whenever possible, to minimize long conversations together in the same room, phone/online appointments will be used to discuss your TCM assessments and treatment plan in greater detail. We’ve found many patients benefit from the phone/online sessions we’ve had, using self-acupressure protocols, herbs, nutrition, Qi Gong or meditation recommendations, self-care homework, measuring progress, etc.
Preparing For Your Appointment
- Screening: We will be diligently screening patients for possible COVID-19 symptoms, when you book, and right before you come to the clinic. Please click on all the automated emails from our software, as they may contain important COVID-19 screening questions or other information. You will have to complete the screening before every acupuncture appointment (sorry for all the emails, but it helps protect us all!)
- Rescheduling due to COVID screening: If you are feeling ill or answer YES to any of the screening questions, please contact us ASAP to discuss canceling your appointment (no charge) or switching to a phone/online appointment. Complete the online self-assessment tool and then follow the recommended steps for further assessment and possible testing.
- Bring: Mask, pen, water bottle.
- Masks: Bring a clean mask (worn no longer than 1 hour) when you come into the clinic and wear it the whole time you’re there. It should fit comfortably over your nose, mouth and chin. A cloth mask is fine. If you forget, some masks will be available at the clinic. Note that no patient masks may be discarded in the clinic.
- Clothes: If you wish to be extra-safe, you can bring a plastic bag and extra change of clothes. At the end of the treatment, you can place your treatment clothes in the bag and seal it to bring home to wash in hot water.
- Visitors: Do not bring any visitor with you to the appointment unless necessary (i.e. for mobility or language requirements). If you bring someone, they will also need to be screened before entering
- Washroom: Consider using the washroom before you leave the house. Washrooms are open and are cleaned regularly, this is just to help reduce the number of people using them and keep you as safe as possible.
- Important notices: Please click on all the email reminders you receive from us. These may contain important COVID screening questionnaires or other reminders before your appointments.
- Tongue pictures:If you can, snap photos of your tongue before each visit, and email them to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). Not only does that save the need to remove your mask in the clinic, but it also allows us to see the tongue first thing in the morning in its most natural state. For more details on how to take the tongue pictures, click here.
Arriving for your appointment
- Waiting room closed: When you arrive, please wait in your car or outside the clinic until your provider calls your cell phone to say the waiting room is clear. [For the Vaughan location at the Marsden Centre, please text the Marsden Centre at 647-269-6979 to let reception know you’ve arrived, and await instructions as reception will be managing traffic flow in the waiting area. You don’t need to do that at 112 Merton Street, just wait and we’ll just call you at the time of your appointment.] Before entering the clinic, you may be asked COVID-19 screening questions again and have your temperature taken.
- Hand hygiene: We’ll remind you to clean your hands by rubbing for at least 20 seconds, whenever you enter and exit the clinic, after your treatment, after using the washroom, and after you touch a common surface (e.g. door handle, elevator button, etc.). Hand sanitizer will be available.
- In the clinic: Try to avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth, if possible. Please cover your mouth for the occasional cough (if you’re coughing regularly, please state this in the screening questionnaire).
- Payment: You can use a contactless payment method if you wish, to help keep everyone safe. The easiest way is ask your practitioner or receptionist to place your credit card on file to bill each time. That allows you to simply walk out after your treatment, without spending the extra time completing the payment, and minimizing the need for surface contact.
- Physical distancing: As there are occasionally other practitioners using the space, you may occasionally come across other people in the clinic at the same time. Please stay 2 metres away from others and remember to keep your mask on at all times. Luckily our clinic space is spacious, so this should not be a problem.
- Washrooms: Please knock on the washroom door and refrain from entering if there is someone already in the washroom (even with 2 stalls at the Midtown location, we are keeping it to one person at a time).
- Minimize talking in the treatment room: Please remember that due to physical distancing guidelines, we are trying to minimize talking during the acupuncture treatment, to help keep patients and practitioners safe.
We have been keeping up to date with all the regulations put out by the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario. We’ve developed a comprehensive clinic policy to cover all the aspects of care and what we are doing to keep everyone safe and healthy.
If you have any other questions about these details, please feel free to contact us anytime.