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COVID-19: Professional Staff Credentialing Considerations for Ontario Hospitals

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The Public Hospitals Act deals with the relationship between hospitals and their Professional Staff members (physicians, dentists, midwives and some nurse practitioners). In a pandemic, pull out your Professional Staff By-laws and look for provisions dealing with temporary appointments to the Professional Staff to deal with an emergency.

The concept of temporary appointments should be in your Professional Staff By-laws to allow your CEO or Chief of Staff/Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee the authority to grant time-limited appointments in urgent situations. Engage that process as necessary.

Here are some additional thoughts:

  • Look in your emergency preparedness documentation for how appointments to the Professional Staff will be determined in case of a disaster or pandemic.
  • Consider engaging your Professional Staff Association on an urgent basis to discuss implications of the pandemic.
  • Look first to existing members of Professional Staff (who have already gone through the credentialing process) and broaden their appointments to a wider range of privileges and sites as appropriate.
  • With consent of your Professional Staff, consider sharing lists of approved credentialed Professional Staff members between hospitals in your region (with their approved privileges) so that temporary privileges can be granted at multiple sites.
  • Consider engaging recently retired Professional Staff members who may still have their licenses and professional indemnity protection coverage in place (or who could be asked to reengage those licenses and coverage in short order).
  • Keep your board informed of your Professional Staff resources and strategies for coverage.

Be sure to read the Ontario Hospital Association’s resources on COVID-19.


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