Nova Scotians access COVID-19 medication and supports through Report and Support
Two and half years into the pandemic, our understanding of the Coronavirus is improving, and research is discovering new things that are making life better, like vaccines to prevent severe illness and medications to treat COVID-19 for those who may be at greater risk of becoming very sick.
Nova Scotians have been benefitting from the vaccines for two years now, and people are learning about the benefits and availability of COVID-19 treatments in Nova Scotia. Medications like Paxlovid are not a cure for COVID-19, but those who are eligible may have an easier road to recovery.
New Waterford resident Kenneth Burton is among those who benefited from receiving the medication after testing positive for COVID-19. Although he was up to date on his COVID-19 vaccines, at age 73, Burton was concerned when he started to develop symptoms, including a sore throat and muscle aches in his chest. He took a COVID-19 test which showed up positive.
Knowing he may need help with his symptoms, Burton called 1-833-797-7772 to complete the Report and Support form over the phone. Within a few days, he received a call back from a pharmacist who determined whether medication was needed to help manage his case.
“I was very lucky. The COVID-19 team was very helpful. They asked if I had questions, they were friendly, I didn’t mind talking to them at all,” said Burton.
Burton was given an inhaler for his initial symptoms, and was then prescribed Paxlovid.
“The medications available through Report and Support are not suitable for everyone,” explained pharmacist Tasha Ramsey, who co-chairs an advisory group that looks at the evidence for COVID-19 medications and makes recommendations for their use in Nova Scotia. “Timing, other medications and other health concerns all factor into whether a person will benefit from available COVID-19 medications.”
The first step in being considered for COVID-19 medications is completing the Report and Support form when you book a PCR test or have a positive rapid test.
“This form gives us quick access to the information we need to understand your COVID-19 health situation, and if people don’t fill out the form, our assessment can be delayed. Medications often need to be started within five days of symptoms, so timely testing and reporting is very important,” Ramsey explained.
This was the case for Terry Legoffic. The normally healthy and active 76-year-old from Dartmouth was down with a nagging cough, severe fatigue and other symptoms consistent with COVID-19, although he had tested negative.
“It came in waves,” Legoffic said. “Heavy, constant fatigue. I’m an active person, I never lay down. But even on a better day I needed to lay down.”
After nearly a month of illness, Legoffic went to Dartmouth General Hospital. There, he tested positive for COVID-19 and they took him through the Report and Support form so he could be considered for medication. They sent him home with a pulse oximeter to measure his oxygen levels, and a prescription for an inhaler to help with his respiratory symptoms.
A few days later, Legoffic was called by Public Health to follow up. Because he had been symptomatic for so long, he wasn’t a good candidate for available medications. Even so, Public Health called a few more times to see how he was doing.
“They took the initiative and called me at least twice, if not three times, to ask how things were,” he said. “I think I was treated fairly and felt supported even though I couldn’t get the treatment.”
For a 94-year-old Sydney woman, who has requested to remain anonymous, she fortunately, experienced the positive impacts of accessing COVID-19 medication.
“I was just feeling unwell in general for a few days. I thought I was coming down with a cold,” she said. Out of an abundance of caution, she took a COVID-19 test, which turned out to be positive.
Like Burton, she called to complete her Report and Support form over the phone. The next day, she received a call back to follow up on her symptoms and discuss what medication or supports might be needed. Because of her age and a heart condition, she was a good candidate for the available treatments.
She said the prescribed medication helped with her symptoms, in addition to the four doses of vaccine she had already received, helped with her recovery.
“In my experience the medication worked well. I’m slowly getting better every day. Today I am ready to go again.”
Nova Scotians should take measures to protect themselves, understanding that these medications are not a cure for COVID-19, and will not benefit everyone.
Public Health recommends that you stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines; this is important not only to prevent illness, but to reduce the severity of symptoms if you test positive. Hand washing and wearing a mask are also good habits to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 and other illnesses, including influenza.
It is important for people to remember, if you fill out Report and Support and you don’t get a phone call for further assessment, it means that in your current situation you would not benefit from COVID-19 treatment. Due to high volumes, only those who require further assessment are followed up with.
Report and Support provides access to medications that reduce the risk of severe illness for those at higher risk. Inhalers can be prescribed by any primary care provider or pharmacist and can help ease the cough associated with COVID-19.
Remember, if you are sick, you are advised to please stay home and get tested for COVID-19, even if you only have one symptom.
Learn more about COVID-19 medications and the Report and Support form - https://www.nshealth.ca/reportandsupport.