skip to content

COVID-19 FAQs for Patients

Print page icon

Updated March 28, 2022

 

Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic many patients will understandably have questions about how to access the ongoing care they need and any care needed related to COVID-19.

It’s important to access information from centralized authorities such as Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Health, and Health Canada, which provide the most up-to-date guidance for physicians and the public.

If you’re experiencing difficulty coping during this time, whether it is due to stress, isolation, grief, or other reasons, you can find a list of resources published by the Ministry of Health.

 

Accessing Care

The government has ended mask mandates for most settings – does this mean I still have to wear a mask when accessing in-person care?

As of March 21, 2022, masking requirements have been removed in most indoor settings in the province, however requirements are still in place for public transit, long-term care and retirement homes, shelters and other congregate care settings, and health-care settings (including hospitals, psychiatric facilities, and doctors’ offices).

The government has indicated that all COVID mandates including the remaining mask mandates will gradually be removed by April 27, 2022 in other settings. However, hospitals, doctor’s clinics, and other health-care settings may still choose to have mask policies, asking patients to wear a mask, as a continued safety measure.

At this time, we strongly recommend continued mask use whenever you are going to a doctor’s appointment. Wearing masks provides an added layer of protection, particularly when physical distancing is not possible. For more information on how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean masks and face coverings, visit the Ministry of Health’s website.

If you have a health condition that makes it difficult to wear a mask, explain this to your doctor or their staff in advance so they understand why you are not able to wear one, and can discuss what accommodations or options are available for you to ensure that you can safely receive the care you need.

Where can I receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

People 5 years of age and older are eligible to book a vaccination and can find links to provincial or regional booking portals on the government website.

CPSO strongly encourages all eligible Ontarians to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot(s) as recommended by your family physician. Immunization is widely recognized as one of the most effective interventions for reducing the impact of infectious diseases.

Are doctors available to provide care?

Yes, doctors are available to provide care both in person and virtually. Reach out to your doctor and find out what care is appropriate for your needs and the best way you can receive it.

If you do not have a doctor or you are unable to see your regular doctor, Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) is a free, confidential service you can call to get health advice or information and determine your options. If you are having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department.

I’m experiencing mental health/addictions issues as a result of the pandemic where can I reach out for support?

We recognize that during this challenging time many Ontarians are facing mental health and addiction issues, and it is important to reach out for the appropriate care.

The Ontario government has put together a Resource Sheet detailing a list of public options to access and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has released strategies to maintain your mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide information and suggestions about how best to cope in this difficult time.

How can I now get the non-essential, non-urgent or elective care that has been put off for the past few months? How can I be seen sooner if I need in-person care?

At stages of the pandemic, non-essential, non-urgent, or elective care has been paused by the Ontario Government. While these services are resuming now, there is a significant backlog that physicians and hospitals are dealing with. Doctors are prioritizing care that has been deferred based on need, capacity, and other resources. There are also extra precautions in place to make sure everyone is safe, which may mean fewer patients can be seen in a day.

Your doctor can help you determine when you can receive care based on your individual needs and available resources. Be sure to tell your doctor if there has been any change in your health status.

What are my options for virtual and in-person care?

Physicians are now seeing patients in a manner that includes a mix of both in-person and virtual care.

In person visits are appropriate where physical contact is necessary to provide care/services (e.g., newborn care, prenatal care, vaccine administration) and other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (e.g., Pap smears and biopsies), or where physical assessments are necessary to make an appropriate diagnosis or treatment decision (e.g., infections conditions, post-operative care, chronic disease management). Your physician can also accommodate you and see you in person if you do not have adequate access to virtual care and/or where it may be too challenging to communicate virtually.

If you are concerned about receiving care virtually, including concerns about your ability to use or access technology, let your doctor know. It’s important for your doctor to be aware of your concerns or limitations.

Can I accompany someone or bring someone else to an in-person doctor’s appointment?

Caregivers play an essential role in helping patients during appointments. The pandemic has created new risks for everyone when in-person care is delivered, so different policies have been in place at various times during the pandemic about whether caregivers or family can attend appointments with you. Speak with your doctor about your situation and whether it’s appropriate and safe to bring someone with you to your appointment.

 

Prescriptions

I need to get a prescription but I have COVID-19 symptoms. Should I go to the pharmacy to get my medication?

No. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are required to isolate for other reasons, it is important that you not visit the pharmacy, as this can put other patients or pharmacy professionals at risk. Call your pharmacy so they can help you find the best way to get your medication. This might mean having your doctor fax or call in your prescription to your choice of pharmacy and then coordinate with the pharmacy for a delivery or to have a family member, friend, etc. pick-up the prescription on your behalf.

I’ve heard about some drugs that might be able to help treat COVID-19. How can I access these drugs?

If a drug is found to be helpful in treating COVID-19 it will be made available through appropriate channels.

Be careful about relying on information about COVID-19 treatments from unknown or non-medical sources or information heard through word of mouth, as this can be false or misleading. It is important to follow recommendations from public health authorities and to follow the medical advice from your doctor. Using unproven treatments may expose you to harm and lead to drug shortages for patients who need the drugs for their intended use. If you have COVID-19 and have questions about how to manage your health, speak to your doctor or call Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-000).

 

Prevention and Treatment

Where do I go to get tested for COVID-19?

Testing guidelines are changing as the province’s response to the pandemic shifts. This means there are different rules about who should get tested and where. For the most up to date guidance go to the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 website.

If you are unsure, you can also call your doctor’s office to see if it is appropriate to go to their office, go elsewhere, or see your doctor virtually.

Once you’ve been tested, there is also an online portal where you can review the results quickly at the comfort of your own home.

If you need additional help making a decision about where to go, call your doctor or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000), or contact your local public health unit.

If I have symptoms of COVID-19 but think it is something else, can I still get treatment?

You can call and speak with your doctor and let them know your symptoms and concerns so they can determine how to assess and treat your issues in a timely manner. Depending on your doctor’s assessment, you may be advised to get tested for COVID-19 as part of the care plan. In the meantime, it’s important to follow public health guidance to help reduce the risk of transmission. If your symptoms are severe, you should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department.

What safety precautions do doctors have in place to help keep me and others safe?

Both Public Health and the Ministry of Health continue to provide guidance to doctors on how to safely provide care during each stage of the pandemic, which may include taking a variety of safety precautions when providing in-person care. The most up to date information can be found on the Ministry of Health's website, where guidance is provided for different sectors within the health care system.

If your needs can be addressed through virtual care, your doctor should let you know that is an option available to you. If you have questions or concerns about the specific precautions your doctor is taking to help keep you and others safe, you can contact them for more information.