The purpose of this communication is to provide suggestions and information to help Alberta patients living with pain manage their care in preparation for the potential spread of COVID-19.
Alberta Health Services has communicated that “while the global risk is rising, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Alberta is still low. The risk level will be adjusted if this changes in the coming weeks.”
All patients on chronic opioid therapy may be immunocompromised and should take the highest precautions, as all people with medical comorbidities
For up to date information on COVID-19 in Alberta and Canada:
If you are a patient requiring a daily dose of opioids during this time,
here are some suggestions:
Keep in contact with your prescribing physician/pain specialist, at either at an upcoming appointment or via telephone to gather information about changes to their policies and procedures.
Request that your physician FAX in your prescription to your pharmacy.
Verify your insurance provider will cover a larger dispensed quantity of medication that will last you for two to four weeks in the event the virus spreads.
Patients wishing to modify their current protocol to ensure they have enough medication for one month need to work with their physicians to put this plan in place. Most physicians will not provide early refills.
Speak with your pharmacist to confirm:
If they have enough supply to meet this change request
If they have a delivery program if you are not able to leave the house, and if so, you request in time for delivery into your zone.
Inform your doctor if they need to release your prescription a day or two early in order to fill it and prepare it before the actual delivery day.
Be sure to discuss any drug interactions regarding your current medication protocol (including any long term opioid therapy) combined with over the counter flu medications with your physician and ask your pharmacist to help guide you towards other options that won’t suppress your immune response.
Additional suggestions & reminders:
Have a plan in the event you or a loved one needs to seek medical attention. Make sure to share your plan with friends, family and neighbours that outline responsibilities and alleviate uncertainty.
Keep all medications in a safe location and away from children considering we will be home spending more time with our families.
Use the buddy system. Don’t forget to reach out via telephone to keep communications flowing with your family, friends and neighbours. As individuals living with chronic pain, many are used to prolonged periods of limited human contact. Periods of stress and anxiety are understandable during challenging times.
Prepare for disruption. Keep your phones charged, pay attention to drug safety and warning notifications, keep a two weeks supply of daily staples on hand, utilize home delivery services, and if you drive ensure your gas tank is full.
Call Alberta Health Services Health Link by dialing 811 if you are experiencing difficulties during the COVID-19 outbreak for further guidance and support. http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/healthinfo/link/index.html
Access updated information provided by Alberta Health Services. https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page16944.aspx
Take the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 self assessment if you have symptoms:
Follow all precautionary measures to prevent the spread by:
Washing your hands often and well. Refer to hand-washing guidance here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/healthinfo/ipc/if-hp-ipc-flu-handwash-howto.pdf Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Stay at home and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Clean and disinfect surfaces. If you are sick, cover your cough and sneezes and then wash your hands. Refer to respiratory etiquette guidance here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/healthinfo/ipc/if-hp-ipccover-cough.pdf
Alberta Talks Pain and HELP AB are provincial organizations in place to advocate for patients living with chronic pain. Please connect with us for further support if you are experiencing any challenges during this time.