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COVID-19 information for patients

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BC Transplant is committed to supporting the wellbeing and safety of our patients and community. All transplant programs are working tirelessly to protect the safety of patients and minimize risks related to COVID-19.

We understand this continues to be a stressful and anxious time for many people in the transplant community. BC is rolling out its Restart Plan, and public health measures are slowly easing. However, transplant recipients are still thought to be at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, so we advise you and your close contacts to continue to carefully follow public health measures, including physical distancing.

Please ensure you go for required lab tests and in-person clinic visits if requested by your care team. This will help your care team give you the best possible care.

The donation and transplant programs in BC are aligned with updated public health measures and are taking the following actions:

  • Limiting non-essential in-person clinic visits by using virtual health (video and phone calls) where possible
  • Resuming living kidney donor transplants, and continuing with deceased organ donation and transplant, with a focus on protecting the safety of patients and staff, and minimizing risks related to COVID-19
  • Sharing resources and information to answer questions regarding COVID-19 for transplant patients

If you have questions or concerns about your health, please contact your health care team.

BC Transplant and the Transplant Research Foundation of BC hosted a webinar on COVID-19 for transplant recipients and caregivers on July 9, 2020. This webinar included:

  • Updates on the current state of organ donation and transplant in BC in the context of COVID-19.
  • Information on what is known about COVID-19 and transplant, including research taking place in BC.
  • Answers to common questions on COVID-19 and transplant recipients, and what they should consider for medical appointments, social interactions, travel, use of masks, etc.

Click here to view the full webinar recording on our YouTube channel.

To stay safe and healthy, transplant recipients and their close contacts are urged to continue to practice protective physical distancing and good hygiene (regular hand washing, avoiding touching your face, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces). While public health restrictions for the general public may be easing, you may also want to continue to limit your contacts to only the people who live with you.


Depending on how the pandemic develops over the coming weeks, you may consider expanding your social contacts to a very small number of others, while still keeping a physical distance.


Like others who have underlying medical conditions, transplant recipients face greater risks if infected with COVID-19. We advise you to be informed of your risk, think through your risk tolerance and take extra precautions.

‎As a transplant recipient who is immunocompromised, you may be at higher risk of significant complications from COVID-19. As per public health orders, employers are expected to have policies in place to support physical distancing and prevent the spread of this virus. We strongly recommend discussing with your employer options for teleworking, flexible hours, staggered start times and use of email/teleconferencing or, where these options are not possible, potentially a leave from work.


Contact your transplant clinic if you or your close household contacts require support for these conversations with an employer.

The most important ways to protect yourself are physical distancing, washing your hands properly and avoiding touching your face. Masks are most effective at preventing transmission to others when someone is sick.


Keep physical distancing as much as possible when in the community and, where not possible, consider using a non-medical mask or face covering. If you do wear a mask, remember that it does not replace physical distancing and practicing good hygiene, including regular handwashing and avoiding touching your face.


BCCDC COVID-19 information on masks

All transplant clinics across the province are limiting non-essential in-person clinic visits. Your appointment may take place over the phone or by video call.


Your transplant care team will let you know if you need to come into clinic for your appointment. This will depend on your health and the length of time since your transplant took place.


If you are asked to come into a clinic in-person, please be reassured that clinics have put in place measures to support physical distancing and public health requirements.


If you have an existing appointment, your transplant clinic will contact you to let you know next steps.

‎Your transplant care team will only order lab tests that they consider necessary at this time. If they are able to postpone bloodwork or other tests, they will do so.


Please ensure you go for required lab tests if requested by your care team. This will help your care team give you the best possible care.

 

Many of the labs across the province have modified working hours and/or procedures. Please check with your lab to see how changes may affect you. Posted here is a document that identifies the lab sites across B.C. with operational changes in response to COVID-19.


If you are asked to visit a lab for tests, there are some precautions you can take:

 

- Schedule your appointment in advance to minimize waiting room time.
- Continue to wash your hands regularly, including before and after a visit.
- Keep a distance of at least one metre from others if possible.

- Depending on the length of your wait, you can also go outside of the lab and return as your appointment time gets closer.

If you are experiencing symptoms, such as a fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and/or cough, contact your transplant clinic for advice.


If you have an appointment, please let the clinic know if you have cold and/or flu symptoms. Do not come to the clinic without notifying staff.

As of July 6, 2020, BC Transplant pharmacies have returned to our normal 100-day limit for the amount of transplant medications provided at one time.


We encourage you to continue to carefully read all information given by your pharmacist, in case there are any changes to your medication refills. If you have any questions about your medications, please phone your transplant pharmacy or clinic.
BC Transplant and our pharmacy partners are here to help and support you and to make sure that your care continues in the safest way possible.

Getting your medications from transplant pharmacies
If you are feeling unwell and require medications, please do not visit your pharmacy. Instead, call your pharmacy and they will arrange to safely provide you with your medications. If necessary, pharmacies can offer medication delivery at no charge to transplant recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit Fair PharmaCare to learn more about financial assistance options including coverage, how to request an income review and the monthly deductible payment option.

UPDATED: March 30, 2020
BC Transplant pharmacies are limiting the amount of transplant medications they provide to a two-month supply at one time.
We want to reassure you that the transplant medication supply is currently stable. We are not facing a shortage of any of our transplant medications, including tacrolimus, cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), mycophenolate sodium, azathioprine, sirolimus, and prednisone.
BC Transplant is monitoring our supply chain very closely during the current COVID-19 situation in BC and around the world. The two-month limit is a precaution to help us ensure a stable long-term supply of necessary medications for all transplant recipients in BC.
We encourage you to continue to carefully read all information given by your pharmacist, in case there are any changes to your medication refills. If you have any questions about your medications, please phone your transplant pharmacy or clinic.
BC Transplant and our pharmacy partners are here to help and support you and to make sure that your care continues in the safest way possible.
Getting your medications from transplant pharmacies
If you are feeling unwell and require medications, please do not visit your pharmacy. Instead, call your pharmacy and they will arrange to safely provide you with your medications. Pharmacies are also making arrangements to deliver medications where possible.  

As of May 11, 2020, all transplant centres in BC are resuming scheduled living kidney transplants.

 

For more information on novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

The BCCDC has a webpage for patients with chronic health conditions, which is relevant for transplant recipients, who are immunocompromised: BCCDC COVID-19 information for patients with chronic health conditions.

BC COVID-19 - Symptom Self Assessment Tool

      BCCDC COVID-19 Updates

Additional Resources

This page was originally created March 16, 2020. The date at the top reflects the date it was most recently updated.

BC Transplant
 
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