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Top 3 Books For Menstrual Health

Four years ago, I was sitting in my Traditional Chinese Medicine gynaecology class completely blown away by the criteria for a healthy period.

Details were shared about the consistency of the flow, the amount, the colour of the blood… the absence of pain. To me it seemed so strange.

Intense period cramps and low back ache aren’t…normal?

I grew up with five sisters, a decent sample size for one family, and it seemed fairly normal to have PMS and to be taking at least a few Advil during each cycle. 

I distinctly remember this moment. It opened my eyes to pieces of knowledge about menstrual health that I was missing and was surprised to be learning as a young woman. There wasn’t a huge conversation around these things for me growing up. Periods were something you dealt with and didn’t talk about. 

This was the beginning of what truly inspired my interest in menstrual health and all the ways that acupuncture and Chinese medicine could benefit menstruators.

I began to seek out all of the information I could, which has led me to these resources I frequently recommend to my patients, friends, and family now.

There is so much information about our total health that can be examined through the different phases of the menstrual cycle and I think it is important to share not only if you are trying to conceive, but for general health as well. 

These are my top three books that I routinely recommend to patients who are interested in learning a bit more about hormone health and menstrual cycles:

1.The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack 

This book will help anyone understand how the menstrual cycle works and how to utilize that information to better understand the signs that your own body may exhibit throughout the phases of the cycle.

It is a well researched reference that can be used not only for those trying to conceive, but also for anyone who is looking for more information on understanding the menstrual cycle in the context of health. It is definitely something I have recommended my patients read, and something I wish I would have found sooner in regards to my own general health as well.

2. Period Power: Harness Your Hormones and Get Your Cycle Working for You by Maisie Hill

The author was able to lay out the cyclical nature of the menstrual cycle and how to recognize the different strengths of each of the different phases. Or as described in the book: the ‘seasons’ of the menstrual cycle.

There is definitely some colourful language in this book, and I found it read as if I was learning from a friend. A great educational read that doesn’t feel heavy or like a burden to get through.

3. Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten 

This was a book that really opened my eyes and was something I really would have benefitted from when I was younger.

It made me ask questions and helped me become a better advocate for myself. To be able to share information that can help other people have a better understanding of what affects the birth control pill can have on all aspects of your being is part of my passion for education and empowerment of my patients. 

Lately for me, there is nothing better than a nice solid book, but these resources do come in a variety of forms from audiobook to kindle. I highly encourage you to check these books out, and let me know your thoughts!

13 Ways To Prepare Your Body & Mind For Childbirth

When a pregnant person finally reaches the last months of pregnancy and birth is imminent, so many emotions can rush to the forefront.

Fear, anxiety and dread to name a few. Especially with a first baby, labour can seem like an insurmountable and terrifying task. One of my thoughts in my last month was, “Well, there’s no way to turn back and no other way out of this!”

So, how can the mind and body be prepared for something that is inevitable yet seems impossible?

Perspective

Perspective is everything when approaching this sacred and selfless act.

At first glance, childbirth can seem like a violent apex to the process of pregnancy. However, the fury of nature itself can be perceived as violent at first glance too, and yet nature and childbirth are the very seat of life.

“Why does it have to be so painful?”

When I approached birth, I found myself asking, why does it have to be so painful? But then I remembered that pain has been used by countless cultures as a tool to reach altered states of consciousness. What if I used my birth experience as a tool to shift paradigms and heal my body, mind and soul?

Indeed, what I found is that as my body literally opened, as it shifted and blossomed – not just a baby was born but a parent was born too. I realized that it is one of the most powerful acts that my human body could make.

13 Ways to Prepare Your Body and Mind for Childbirth:

1. Acupuncture

Incorporate regular acupuncture treatments into your pre-birth routine to help prepare for childbirth or to help with any issues or discomfort that might be arising as you approach labour. 

Pre-birth acupuncture helps to prepare the cervix and the pelvis for labour and can also address any underlying issues such as heartburn, rib, back or pelvic pain, insomnia, breech presentation and stress.

Acupuncture also stimulates endorphins to release, which can help bring a sense of ease to the last few weeks of pregnancy. 

2. Therapeutic Touch

Have lots of cuddles and tender touch from your partner and go for a prenatal massage. Touch increases oxytocin and endorphins, which can help increase the body’s threshold for pain and discomfort.

These neurotransmitters can help encourage a person to follow their instincts and is the body’s natural mechanism that helps to protect the mind from the intensity of labour.

3. Birth Stories

Reach out to the people in your life and ask them to share their birth stories.

Take in helpful birth stories and feel free to filter out any stories that are overwhelming for you to hear. Keep in mind that some people have difficult or even traumatic birth stories, and know that it is ok to kindly ask them to save those stories for another time if you are uncomfortable hearing them.

Hearing birth stories can help open your mind and perspective to what is possible. It is helpful to engage with the people in your community to feel a sense of support. 

4. Prenatal Class

Take a prenatal class so that you know what to expect from the stages of labour. Adopt some coping mechanisms that resonate with you and practice them in the weeks leading up to birth. It can also be helpful to have a mindfulness practice at this time.

5. Therapy

Have a visit with a registered psychologist who specializes in birth preparation to work with any unresolved fears. This can make a huge difference and can help to unwind any social conditioning or deconstruct any preconceived notions you may have about childbirth (for example that labour has to be as traumatic as we see in the movies).

6. Diet & Nutrition

Try to be mindful of your meals as you get closer to labour. No-one wants to go into labour with nothing but a big bag of salt and vinegar chips in their belly!

Also consider avoiding pungent, spicy and greasy foods in the last few weeks of pregnancy.  In Chinese Medicine, we recognize that there can often be issues with excessive mucus production during the end of pregnancy. So staying away from ‘damp forming’ foods can help.  For example, avoid dairy products, rich meats, bananas and concentrated juices.

7. Rest

Get as much rest as possible while engaging in gentle physical activity such as walking, TaiChi or prenatal yoga. Make sure to rest to avoid becoming exhausted. Take lots of naps and take lots of moments just to rest. You don’t want to be tired going into labour!

8. Pelvic Floor Care

Visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist to get in touch with your pelvic floor and cultivate a relationship with these crucial muscles. 

9. Beauty

Surround yourself with beauty. Create a pleasant little bubble for yourself and make sure to take extra care in pampering yourself.

Surround yourself with flowers, wear jewelry, or do whatever helps you to feel beautiful. You are a beautiful and powerful person who is about to cross the threshold into parenthood.

Prepare yourself to dine with divinity and become a birth warrior! Spend time in nature. Let go of your inhibitions and feel yourself go with the flow. Take in the beauty that is all around you. Allow yourself to be moved by the expressions of life on this incredible planet.

10. Set An Intention

Take some time to set an intention for your birth. While your body is open and in the thralls of birthing, it is possible to heal and cultivate a new constitution. Birth can often somehow heal lifelong issues such as dysmenorrhea (period cramps) and vulvodynia (vaginal pain)!

Keep in mind that an intention does not mean having an attachment to any particular outcome, but rather an open-ended idea. For example, it could simply be to heal and cultivate self love.

This intention for healing is something that you can hold onto throughout the process. Entering birth as a ceremony and a rite of passage can bring so much meaning to this experience.

Try visualizing placing your intention into a stone that resonates with you. Then carry that stone into your birth as a focal point and reminder throughout the birthing process.

11. Invite Patience

Remember that babies have their own timeline.

Unless you are being induced or have a planned Cesarian birth, when past your estimated ‘due date’ (it’s really more of a guess date!), try to practice patience.  Remember that when ready, the baby will send the signal that begins the cascade of hormones that will precipitate labour.

Spend any extra time cultivating trust for your body, your baby and your outcome.  You and your baby are going to go through such a journey to be with one another. It can be a lovely practice to talk to your baby and communicate your intention. I remember saying to my baby, “Let’s be gentle with each other!”

12. Feel The Support Of Those Before You

Know that you are backed and held by the love of all of the mothers and parents who came before you. You wouldn’t exist without the love of every parent in your lineage. Everyone arrives on this planet through birth.

I love the description that in your most primal moment, your body becomes a Stargate – a portal between the ‘other side’ and this planet. Knowing that all of the mothers and grandmothers and parents and grandparents before you have brought you to this sacred moment.

13. Other Resources

Some of my favourite resources for preparing for birth are:

Some Final Words

While we have made tremendous and miraculous strides towards helping people and babies survive this primal act, often a birthing person can be perceived as a condition that needs to be fixed. However, it is important to remember that birth is a natural physiological process – to be supported and nurtured, not to be fixed.

Having someone with you, such as your partner or a doula, who can advocate for you during birth can be very helpful.

Depending on which turn birth takes, decisions can be thrust upon you very quickly. It is helpful to have a birth team that you trust and a clear birth plan that can also go with the flow with the situation presented. Once this is all sorted out, you can relax into your last moments before baby arrives and take it one day at a time.

Good luck and stay tuned for a future blog post on my own birth story experience!

Contact us if you would like to find out how the experienced practitioners at Whole Family Health can be a part of your pre-birth, birth and postpartum team.

photo: IG @katie_duarte

Exercise When Undergoing ART

It is best to maintain healthy exercise when trying to conceive, but what about if you are starting ovarian stimulating medications as in IVF, medicated assisted IUI cycles or other ART?

These medications stimulate follicle growth in the ovaries. Some of them are oral and others are in the form of injections.

Gonadotropins

Injected medications contain gonadotropins. Gonadotropins help the ovaries to develop more than one egg at a time (typically the ovaries only develop one egg per cycle). This can put a lot of strain on the ovaries and their supporting ligaments, because the size of the ovaries are a lot larger than they normally are.

Ovarian Torsion

The concern around exercise and larger ovaries due to medication lies in the rare, but real concern surrounding ovarian torsion.

Ovarian torsion is when the ovary twists on itself. The ovaries are supplied with blood running through the ligaments that suspend them, and these ligaments become cut off in the twisting process, which is extremely painful and also dangerous.  For this reason, many people are told to radically reduce exercise, especially if they are used to doing high intensity exercises. 

I want to differentiate ovarian torsion from the normal aches that can occur during the ovarian stimulation phase.

Ovarian torsion is rare, it occurs in 0.03% of IVF cycles (6). When torsion has occurred, it has been described as extreme pain that makes you want to double over and is accompanied by nausea or vomiting. It typically has a sudden onset in the setting of a moving or twisting motion.

Always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Note

This does not typically apply to people taking oral ovarian stimulating medications such as Clomid or Letrozole, because these meds do not stimulate the ovaries in the same way that gonadotropin meds do. 

However, because the ovaries are larger than usual when stimulated by these oral meds too, you are still advised to be cautious with exercise when taking them.

Always consult with your primary care provider to make sure the exercise you are doing is safe.

So What Kind of Exercise is Typically Safe?

It is still important to do some light/low impact movements during ART because it can improve mood, sleep, and recovery.

So, what are safe movements that can be done? 

Exercises that are typically safe to do (always consult with your fertility clinic to make sure, advice can vary depending on individual cases):

  • Walking (but no quick twisting)
  • Light jogging (But not near the end of injections or close to retrieval time and again no quick twisting)
  • Swimming (but no twisting or flip turns at the end of the lane)
  • Yoga (but no twisting or inversions)
  • Light weightlifting (2-5 lbs)  (but no quick twisting)

Exercises to Avoid:

  • High impact exercise with quick changes in body position
  • Running 
  • Vigorous acrobatics (ie. trapeze, aerial silks, etc..) 
  • Pole dancing
  • Pilates
  • Barre Classes 

General tips

Exercise is good for you whether you are trying to conceive or not and if you are trying to conceive, you may want to modify your routine.

Always speak with your primary care provider about your personal situation to help find a routine that is right for you. 

For more advice on how to support your reproductive health and wellbeing, book a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Photo www.chloehphoto.com IG @chloealexisham via @yogateau

Exercise When Trying To Conceive With PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can present along a spectrum of numerous signs and symptoms that some people exhibit, while others may not.

The symptoms can include irregular menstrual cycles, high levels of male hormones (androgens/testosterone), acne, excessive hair growth on the body, head hair loss, insulin resistance, difficulty losing weight, and infertility.

However, the biggest component that contributes to infertility in people with PCOS is anovulation (lack of ovulation), due to insulin resistance. This is when cells do not respond efficiently to insulin, making it more difficult for the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. This in turn leads to anovulation because higher blood glucose levels cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone, which interferes with the development of the follicles and prevents normal ovulation.

The relationship between physical activity, higher BMI, and insulin resistance associated with PCOS has been studied extensively, and one review showed improved ovulation, weight loss, and insulin resistance with moderate exercise for 12- to 24-week exercise programs (1).

General Guidelines: 

  • If you are of average BMI or higher, and are sedentary (not exercising):
    • You should be doing light to moderate exercise at least 3x/week but no more than 5x/week.
  • If you are exercising at least 3-5x/week:
    • Maintain this and do not exceed 5x/week of exercise, especially if it is higher intensity exercise.

Types of Exercises Best Suited to PCOS (do one or the other, not both in the same week):

  • Resistance exercise 3x/week for 45 minutes per session. 
  • Vigorous exercise 75 minutes/week, which can include high intensity interval training (HIIT) but for no longer than 20 minutes each time.

For more advice on how to support your reproductive health and wellbeing, book a free 15-minute phone consultation.

References

PMID: 20833639

Image:
Stephanie Deangelis
www.stephaniedeangelis.com
IG @steph_angelis

Exercise When Trying To Conceive Naturally

It’s another New Year and starting a new exercise regimen is usually high on the list of healthy changes people make at the start of the New Year. But what if you are trying to conceive, is it ok to exercise then?

There can be a lot of conflicting advice out there and it can be quite confusing to know what is right when it comes to exercise and trying to conceive. It is completely understandable, because there are different guidelines as to what is safe and healthy, depending on what your current situation is.

For example, recommendations depend on your current level of fitness, Body Mass Index (BMI), whether or not you’re going through IVF or using ovarian stimulating medications, if you have PCOS or if you have suffered from miscarriages in the past.

Therefore, I will try to break it down as best as I can over the coming weeks for different scenarios, starting with exercise when trying to conceive naturally.

Exercise When Trying to Conceive Naturally

As I mentioned, it does depend on your current fitness level. When I am talking to my patients about exercise, I always assess what their current fitness level and regime is.

There is a fine line between too much exercise and too little exercise. Too much high-impact and vigorous exercise has been shown to negatively impact fertility, as it can cause menstrual and ovulation dysfunction (meaning no menstrual/ovulation cycles or irregular cycles in both). 

This is mainly because people who are too lean affect their hormones in a way that can stop/delay ovulation and menstruation and this can negatively impact conception (1).

That said, studies have also shown that people who are of average weight (within a healthy BMI) but lead sedentary lifestyles also have lower fertility rates (2).

For those who have a higher BMI and live a sedentary lifestyle, this can negatively impact ovulation as well. This in turn, can decrease chances of conception (3).

I also want to mention that it is more about living a healthier lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and being physically active that will positively affect fertility rates rather than an arbitrary number going down on the scale (4).

So where does this leave you and how much should you exercise? 

General Guidelines: 

  • If you are exercising 7 days a week, working out longer than 1 hour each day, or are below your BMI:
    • You need to cut down your workouts by at least 2 days a week and/or decrease the intensity/amount of time of your workouts and eat higher calories. 
    • A good gauge for an appropriate level of intensity is that you should be able to talk through workouts.
    • Do not push yourself to a point of endorphin release (aka the runner’s high).
    • Refrain from going from high-impact to low-impact or no exercise, based on the menstrual cycles (for example pushing yourself to exhaustion with excess exercise before ovulation and then becoming sedentary after ovulation, until taking a pregnancy test). This can also add to the emotional roller coaster of trying to conceive.
  • If you are of average or higher BMI and are sedentary (not exercising): 
    • You should be doing light to moderate exercise at least 3x/week but no more than 5x/week.
  • If you are exercising at least 3-5x/week:
    • Maintain this and do not exceed 5x/week of exercise, especially if it is higher intensity exercise.

For more advice on how to support your reproductive health and wellbeing, book a free 15-minute phone consultation.

References: 

  1. PMID: 11431132
  2.  PMID: 23963750
  3. PMID: 26097395
  4. PMID: 31304974 

Image:
IG @mre.cloe

PCOS Acne: A Natural Approach

What is PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is an endocrine disorder and one of the most common reproductive disorders in women of reproductive age.  This syndrome affects roughly 4-12% of women and can have a huge impact on fertility as well as an increased risk in other health conditions such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity. 

PCOS is diagnosed by hyperandrogenism, and menstrual irregularities, it is considered to be a syndrome with a spectrum of severity.  So while you may have been diagnosed with PCOS you may exhibit only some of the symptoms that hallmark this disease. 

PCOS Acne

While none of these symptoms are ideal, one of the most disheartening and frustrating symptoms that 14-34% of women diagnosed with PCOS exhibit is acne.

While other PCOS symptoms can be managed and hidden, acne is not one of them. This can cause self confidence issues and ultimately affect quality of life.

Acne in PCOS is caused by hyperandrogenism, a hormone imbalance which causes an increase in the male hormone called testosterone. Testosterone causes an increase in the natural oils in our hair follicles called sebum.

The increase in sebum along with bacteria being trapped beneath the hair follicles causes comedones and cystic-like lesions which can appear on the face, neck, upper back and chest. These under the skin cysts are often very painful, inflamed and can leave behind scarring. 

If you suffer from PCOS and acne, here are some easy natural remedies that can help heal and reduce the prevalence of these unwanted blemishes:

Nutrition: Treating PCOS Acne From Within

Our skin is a representation of our digestive system. If you have PCOS and acne you most likely have some level of chronic inflammation in the body as well as insulin resistance.

Sounds scary but the good news is there are many foods and supplements that can help to reduce these symptoms.

An anti-inflammatory diet including lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, mackerel, flax seeds, walnuts, olive oil) can have a positive effect on PCOS and acne.

Limiting our carbohydrates and increasing our protein consumption can level out the insulin in our body and reduce metabolic symptoms of PCOS.

PCOS Skin Care

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be a life saver. This natural product has strong anti-microbial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

This over-the-counter product also contains natural acidity which balances the pH of your skin and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria flora on the skin.

Studies have shown that lactic acid can help reduce the prevalence of acne. Use this product as a toner after cleansing and before moisturizing.

Turmeric Face Mask 

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Here is a great home remedy to reduce redness, the prevalence and size of blemishes as well as reducing hyper-pigmentation and scars caused by acne:

1/2 teaspoon of organic turmeric, 

2 tablespoons of organic plain yogurt

1 teaspoon of raw honey (Manuka provides the most health benefits)

Combine the above ingredients into a thick paste. Gently cleanse the skin, and apply to the face with clean hands avoiding the eye area.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes and rinse.

*Turmeric can cause temporary staining for those with light skin.

If staining occurs gently, wipe the area with a milk soaked cotton ball.

Clean Makeup Brushes

When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes and sponges?

These forgotten beauty products can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause and worsen acne.

Clean your brushes weekly with a mild soap, and allow then to dry completely before use.

Facial Renewal Acupuncture 

Facial Renewal Acupuncture can also be a very effective way to treat and reduce cystic acne.

Acupuncture works by inserting tiny needles into the face, causing positive micro-trauma to the area. This micro-trauma signals the production of collagen and elastin to the area, healing blemishes, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and smoothing skin complexion.

If you want to know if facial acupuncture is right for you, contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Although PCOS and acne can be troubling, the good news is there are lots of ways to naturally manage and improve these unwanted symptoms.

References:

  • PMID: 23210095
    PMID: 15931331
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5

Photo: Elena Ryzhkovich @yadoohari

Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is an intensive 8-week, once weekly, group program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and associates at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. It is now an internationally acclaimed program with a growing body of research supporting its psycho-physiological benefits. 

It is also used as a standard in studies researching the benefits of Mindfulness, including (but not limited to):

The curriculum is based on an emerging field of mind-body medicine and neuropsychology. Mindfulness actually rewires the brain and strengthens the neural pathways for resilience. It helps us to be less reactive to stressors, to manage and recover more quickly from stress, and to decrease the negative impacts of chronic stress on our bodies. 

Through practical training in mindfulness, cognitive behavioural and self-regulation skills, participants learn to cultivate a different relationship with stress and to develop skillful and healthy strategies in response to challenging situations. 

Program Structure

The program consists of:

  • an orientation
  • eight weekly (2½ hour) classes
  • a 4-hour Day of Mindfulness Retreat between weeks six and seven

For optimal benefit, this program requires participants to follow daily home practice assignments, designed to assist in the development of an effective, nourishing, and sustainable meditation practice.

Classes include presentations of information and experiential learning through:

  • a variety of guided meditation practices
  • mindful movement exercises (with optional modifications for safety)
  • discussion of the challenges, benefits, and strategies for developing a mindfulness practice in daily life

Who
This psycho-educational program is suitable for anyone looking for practical tools to deal with chronic stress and its negative impacts on the body as well as to improve their overall health and wellbeing.  

Please note:

  • Registration is limited to Canadian residents.
    .
  • Having a primary physician or therapist is required for registration in this program.
    .
  • If you have PTSD, suicidal ideation, untreated substance abuse or you have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, this may not be the program for you. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding your suitability for this program.

Next Online Course

Join us for this summer’s 8-week series with seasoned Mindfulness Instructors, Hannah Marsh and Dr. Alda Ngo, who are both MBSR Facilitators in Training with the Centre for Mindfulness Studies.

Please note this will be a highly interactive web-based program using Zoom. You will need a high-speed internet connection, a video cam (built-in or external), and an audio microphone (built-in or external).

Times
Mandatory Orientation:
Monday, June 22, 630-9PM

Weekly classes:
Mondays, 630 – 9PM
June 29 – Aug 24 (no class Aug 3rd)

Day of Mindfulness Retreat:
Sunday, Aug 16
1230-430PM

Cost
Sliding Scale* $275 – $325 – $375 + GST

*Please pay more, if you can, to help support those with financial limitations. 

Accessibility is important to us, scholarships are also available to those for whom cost is a barrier. Please contact us for more information. 

Register Here

The deadline for registration is June 22.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations received prior to the registration deadline will be refunded minus a $100 processing fee. No refunds will be issued after that date. 

We reserve the right to cancel this program due to unforeseen circumstances; if this should occur, registrants will be granted full refunds.

In-Person Appointment: What You’ll Need To Know

Here is a summary of what you need to know for when you come to your in-person appointment:

  1. Do you have any of the following new symptoms that are not related to any pre-existing conditions: fever, cough, congestion, shortness of breath. If so, you cannot come to the clinic at this time, please notify us, self-isolate and call HealthLink 811.

  2. Have you travelled internationally within the last 14 days or have you had unprotected close contact with individuals who have a confirmed or presumptive diagnosis of COVID-19? If so, you cannot come to the clinic at this time.

  3. You will be required to complete 2 Pre-screen Surveys. The first one will be emailed to you 48 hours prior to your booked appointment, and the second one is to be completed in-person upon arrival at the clinic. 

  4. You are required to review and sign The COVID-19 Informed Consent to Treat Form before your first appointment following June 22nd. It will be automatically emailed to you.

  5. Please arrive 5 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. Please call us once you have arrived and wait in your vehicle or outside, until we phone to let you know when your treatment room is available. 

  6. We ask that you please come unaccompanied. If a companion is necessary, they will also be required to complete the Pre-screening Survey upon arrival at the clinic. We will also require your companion’s full name and phone number for our tracking registry of all people entering the clinic. (For contact tracing purposes.)

  7. Please don’t bring unnecessary belongings into the clinic. However, we encourage you to bring your own pen. If you do not have one, we will provide you with a disinfected pen.

  8. Please wear a mask to the clinic. If you do not have one, we will provide you with one for $2 + GST. 

  9. Please note that restrooms are for urgent use only.

  10. We will not be accepting cash payments at this time. We encourage you to use either contactless electronic payment through our Jane App booking system or our debit/ credit Tap POS system. If you would like to use the Jane App Payment system, it requires that we have your credit card number on file.

  11. All clients must use the provided hand sanitizer upon arrival, before payment and before exiting the clinic. 

  12. Please ensure we have your up-to-date address, email & phone number on file.

Thanks so much for your support and cooperation with helping us to keep our staff, clients and community safe! Please let us know if you have any questions.

NEW COVID-19 ENHANCED PROTOCOLS

We are very excited to reopen on Monday, June 22nd, as part of Stage 2 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy!

In order to optimize safety of in-person visits, we will be maintaining infection prevention and control standards with Enhanced Protocols, that meet requirements set by AHS and our Regulatory Colleges.

Click Here for a Summary of What You Need to Know for Your In-Person Appointment

OVERVIEW

  • In-person services proceed when the anticipated benefits outweigh the risks to the client and the practitioner.
  • Practitioners and clinic staff must complete the screening survey for COVID-19 symptoms prior to each work shift to ensure they are safe and fit to work.
  • Practitioners and clinic staff must follow patient screening procedures prior to in-person services.
  • Appointment times are spaced to minimize the number of people in the clinic at any given time, and to allow time for cleaning and disinfecting procedures between clients.
  • Practitioners and staff must wear a mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace to safely provide in-person services. Clients are also asked to wear a mask while at the clinic.
  • Any instruments or pieces of equipment used in client care must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Practitioners must carefully consider if they are the most appropriate health professional to address the client’s needs. In-person services are not necessary when the patient’s condition can benefit from Tele-eHealth treatments. Clients must be referred to other healthcare practitioners if it is in their best interest.
  • If the clinic becomes aware of a client who has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19, Whole Family Health will call Health Link 811 to report and receive guidance.


SCHEDULING

  • Appointments will be scheduled in a way that minimizes the number of clients in the waiting and reception areas at any given time.
  • Appointments will be scheduled with ample time to clean and disinfect treatment areas between each client.
  • Clients will be asked to wait in their vehicles until their assigned treatment room is available, clean and disinfected. Administrators will phone clients to let them know when we are ready to receive them.


CLIENT SCREENING & INFORMED CONSENT


PRE-SCREENING

  • Clients must complete 2 required Pre-screen Self-assessment Surveys and will not be permitted to attend their appointment without completion of these 2 pre-screen surveys:
  • 48-hour Pre-screen Survey
    • All clients must complete a pre-screening survey that is emailed to them 48 hours prior to their scheduled appointment.
  • In-person Pre-screen Survey
    • Upon arrival, clients are required to complete a second pre-screen survey and have their temperature recorded before proceeding with their appointment.
  • If either survey indicates potential COVID infection, the client must cancel and/or reschedule their in-person appointment and they will be advised to self-isolate and call Health Link 811.
  • People who accompany patients, such as parents, caregivers, or companions, must be screened with the same questions as the client.

INFORMED CONSENT

  • COVID-19 Informed Consent to Treat Form
    • Clients are provided with a revised COVID-19 Informed Consent to Treat Form relevant while Enhanced COVID-19 Guidelines remain in effect.
    • This COVID-19 Informed Consent to Treat Form must be signed prior to their first appointment after June 22nd, 2020.
    • Clients must allow the disclosure of contact information in the event that a client has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19.

CLIENTS & COMPANIONS ENTERING THE CLINIC

  • Clients are asked to remain outside the clinic or in their vehicle and notify us by telephone once they have arrived.
  • We will call the client when we are ready to receive them, and their treatment room is available, clean and disinfected.
  • We ask that clients and companions wear a mask when they come to the clinic. If they do not have a mask, we will have a mask available for $2 + GST.
  • Clients and companions must use the hand sanitizer provided upon entering the clinic.
  • Clients and companions must complete the pre-screening survey and have their temperatures recorded upon arrival at the clinic.
  • If the client has not yet reviewed and signed the COVID-19 Consent to Treat Form, they must do so upon arrival for their first scheduled appointment after June 22nd, 2020.
  • Clients are encouraged to bring their own pen. If they don’t have one, we will provide a disinfected pen for use.
  • Clients are advised not to bring extra people to the appointment unless absolutely necessary. For contact tracing purposes, every companion’s pre-screen survey, full name, address and phone number must be recorded in the Clinic Registry. All clinic visitors must allow the disclosure of contact information in the event that a client has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Clients are asked not to bring any unnecessary belongings into the clinic.

DURING APPOINTMENTS

  • Practitioners must wear a surgical/procedure mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the clinic to safely provide in-person services.
  • Practitioners will follow AHS mask donning and doffing procedure guidelines.
  • If a pre-screened client is subsequently identified by the practitioner to exhibit signs and symptoms consistent with a respiratory illness, whether COVID-19 is suspected or not:
    • The client must wear a mask and disinfect their hands immediately.
    • The client must isolate from others in the clinic.
    • The in-person treatment will be discontinued and rescheduled.
    • The client will be instructed to self-isolate and to call Health Link 811.
    • Immediately following the client’s departure, the practice area will be cleaned and disinfected.
    • A record of all close contacts of the symptomatic client and other visitors and staff in the clinic at the time of the visit will be kept. This information will be necessary if the symptomatic patient later tests positive for COVID-19.
  • If the clinic becomes aware of a client who has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19, Whole Family Health will call Health Link 811 to report and receive guidance.

AFTER APPOINTMENTS

PAYMENT

  • Clients must use the hand sanitizer provided prior to processing payments.
  • No cash payments will be accepted at this time.
  • Clients are encouraged to pay using touch-less methods:
    • Tap-function of credit or debit cards to minimize touching the merchant terminal.
    • On-line payments through Jane App. Clients would need to have a valid credit card number on file, which are securely encrypted in the Jane App.


RECEIPTS

  • Electronic receipts will be emailed to limit the exchange of papers.
  • If papers are required, clients are encouraged to bring their own pen. If they don’t have one, we will provide a disinfected pen for use.


STAFF HEALTH SCREENING

  • Practitioners and staff must stay up-to-date with current COVID-19 guidelines and policies from their respective governing bodies, CAAA, NHPC, Public Health, and the Government of Alberta.
  • Under no circumstances will a practitioner or staff attend work if any of the following applies:
    • They are feeling unwell or exhibiting any symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, or shortness of breath.
    • They have travelled internationally within the last 14 days.
    • They have been in close contact with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
  • Practitioners and staff must follow self-isolation and quarantine requirements when the order (CMOH Order 05-2020) remains in effect.


DAILY PRE-SCREEN SELF-ASSESSMENT SURVEY

  • All Practitioners and staff are to record their temperature and complete a Pre-screen Self-assessment Survey prior to attending work.
    • If the survey indicates possibility of respiratory-related or COVID-like symptoms, the staff member does not attend work.
  • Screening questions for practitioners and staff of the clinic are:
    • Do you have any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, and/or runny nose?
    • Have you returned to Canada from outside the country (including USA) in the past 14 days?
    • In the past 14 days, have you been at work or elsewhere, while not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.
    • Did you have close contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of COVID19?
    • Did you have close contact with a person who had acute respiratory illness that started within 14 days of their close contact, to someone with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19?
    • Did you have close contact with a person who had acute respiratory illness who returned from travel outside of Canada in the 14 days before they became sick?
    • Did you have a laboratory exposure to biological material (i.e. primary clinical specimens, virus culture isolates) known to contain COVID-19?
  • If the answer is “YES” to any of the above, staff are not permitted to attend work and must self-isolate.


FACILITY REQUIREMENTS

  • Staff will be transitioned to home offices as much as possible.
  • Access to approved hand sanitizer will be increased.
  • A physical plexi-glass barrier has been installed at the reception desk.
  • Practitioners and staff must wear a mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace to safely provide in-person services.
  • Clients are also asked to wear a mask while at the clinic. If they do not have one, we will provide one for $2 + GST.
  • Seats in waiting areas have been removed to allow for safe physical distancing.
  • Safe physically distanced spots have been clearly demarcated on the floor in the reception area.
  • All items that cannot be disposed of, will be cleaned and disinfected between clients:
    • Pens, clipboards, POS terminal, call buttons, needle trays, etc..
  • Items that cannot be effectively cleaned and disinfected between clients have been removed from the clinic environment:
    • Magazines, toys and water dispensers from waiting areas
    • Chairs and other items with porous fabric upholstery (unless donned with vinyl coverings)
    • All non-essential items must also be removed
  • Signage with the following information will be visibly posted for staff and clients:
    • Physical distancing
    • Hand hygiene (hand washing and hand sanitizer use)
    • Help limiting the spread of infection
    • Safe donning and doffing of masks
  • These clearly defined COVID-19 prevention protocols and policies will be posted on our website and/or printed upon request.


HAND HYGIENE & PPE

  • Face protection protects the eyes, nose, and mouth from exposure to contaminated droplets.


MASKS

  • Practitioners must wear a surgical/procedure mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace to safely provide in-person services.
  • Practitioners will follow procedures on Donning and Doffing of mask according to Alberta Health Service website:
    • Wash hands before donning and doffing mask
    • Ensure a snug fit over the nose and under the chin
    • Wear the mask with the moisture-absorbing side against the skin
    • Change the mask when it is moist or soiled
    • Only touch the elastic or ties when removing the mask
    • Do not wear the mask around the neck
    • Discard single-use masks in a waste container
  • Any staff that do not work in patient-care areas or have direct patient contact are required to mask at all times in the workplace (a non-medical mask is acceptable).


EYE PROTECTION

  • Eye protection may also be worn, as it provides another layer of safety. This can include safety glasses, goggles, or face shields.
  • Practitioners and staff may choose to implement these measures.
  • Services offered around clients’ mouths, nose and eyes are currently strongly discouraged. However, if treatment in these areas is necessary, practitioners must don a face shield, mask, gloves and apron.


HAND HYGIENE

  • Practitioners must practice routine hand hygiene consistent with Alberta Health Services 4 Moments of Hand Hygiene:
    • Before contact with patient’s environment and/or patient
      • Prior to entering treatment room
      • Prior to physical contact with clients ie. pulse / acupuncture/ massage
    • Before clean/aseptic procedure
      • Prior to acupuncture or massage treatment
    • After body fluid exposure risk
      • After acupuncture or massage treatment
    • After contact with patient and/or patient’s environment
      • After pulse, acupuncture or massage treatment
      • Prior to leaving treatment room
  • Practitioners must also avoid touching their face and practice respiratory etiquette by coughing or sneezing into their elbow or covering coughs and sneezes with a facial tissue and then disposing of the tissue immediately.
  • All staff must wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water between each client, after handling shared items or cleaning and disinfecting, before donning gloves and after doffing gloves.
  • Clients will be asked to complete hand hygiene using the provided hand sanitizer at the following times:
    • Upon arrival to the clinic
    • Prior to processing payment
    • Prior to departure from the clinic


GLOVES

  • As long as appropriate hand hygiene protocols are practised, AHS does not require the use of single-use disposable gloves during treatment (unless the client requires treatment around the eyes, nose and mouth).
  • Individual practitioners and clients may prefer that the practitioner wear gloves during the treatment session as an extra safety measure.
  • If practitioners choose to wear gloves while practising, they must continue to follow hand-washing protocols and glove-wearing protocols.
  • Gloves are part of routine precautions and can be worn as a safeguard against exposure to blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, and mucous membranes.
  • Otherwise, gloves must be worn in the clinic when:
    • Handling clean linens
    • Handling contaminated linens
    • Performing routine environmental cleaning in the clinic
    • Handling waste
    • Required by a health alert


ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING AND DISINFECTION

  • Effective cleaning and disinfection are essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is transmitted primarily through contact with respiratory droplets, or from contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • Whole Family Health will use the “wipe-twice” method to clean and disinfect: wiping surfaces with a cleaning agent to clean soil off first and then wiping again with a disinfectant.
  • All disinfecting will be accomplished using a Health Canada approved hard-surface disinfectant for use against COVID-19 (with a DIN number).
  • Patient care/patient contact items will be cleaned and disinfected between each patient/use including (but not limited to):
    • treatment tables
    • chairs
    • all contact surfaces
    • entire headpieces
    • pillows
    • therapeutic tools and devices (e.g. cupping tools and acupressure tools)
    • call buttons
    • pin pads used to process payment
    • reception area
    • clip boards
    • pens/ pencils
  • Highly touched areas in treatment rooms will be cleaned between each client including (but not limited to):
    • doorknobs
    • countertops / desktops
  • General highly touched areas will be cleaned and disinfected every 2-3 hours or whenever visibly soiled (including but are not limited to):
    • light switches
    • doorknobs
    • toilets
    • taps
    • handrails
    • counter tops
    • touch screens/mobile devices
    • phones
    • keyboards


LINENS

  • Any cloth items, such as towels, sheets, headrest coverings, etc., that are used in the clinic will be laundered in hot water (above 60°C) with regular laundry soap before being dried and used again.
  • Gloves will be donned when handling these items for both dirty and clean laundry processing.
  • Staff must always use new gloves when handling clean laundry.


RECORD KEEPING

  • Clear documentation records are essential to ensure the successful implementation of COVID-19 prevention protocols and policies.
  • Whole Family Health will keep the following accurate and up-to-date records:
    • Pre-screening questions for symptoms of COVID-19 for all staff, clients and client accompanying companions
    • COVID-19 Consent to Treat Forms
    • Actual appointment dates and times (arrival and departure)
    • Up to date addresses and phone numbers of all patients and companions
    • Specific treatment rooms used
  • In addition, separate files must be kept for the following information:
    • Practitioners’ and staff’s daily health screening records and up-to-date contact information
    • Daily cleaning and disinfection records
  • A registry of all people entering the clinic, including the Practitioners, staff, people in the clinic aside from clients (e.g. repair people, guardians accompanying a client, etc.).
    • At a minimum, the following information should be included:
      • Name
      • Phone number
      • Date
      • Arrival time
      • Departure time

THANK YOU

We thank everybody for your support and cooperation with helping us to adhere to these Enhanced Guidelines, in order to keep our staff, clients and broader community safe and healthy.

We are happy to provide you with a printed copy of these Enhanced Guidelines upon request.

Please feel free to contact us for any additional information.

Clinic Closure until March 30th

COVID-19

It’s important to us to help protect our families and communities.

As a small business, it has been hard for us to know the best action to take, given the currently growing COVID-19 situation.

This morning, the Prime Minster advised that all Canadians should stay home. Dr. Theresa Tam, our Chief Public Health Officer explained that the window to flatten the curve is narrowing, and that now is the critical time to act if we are to make a difference.

Meanwhile health authorities intimate with the unfolding situation in other countries are urging us to learn from what we have observed, and to act fast.

One of our dear WFH Team Members is immune-compromised and many of us have vulnerable family members or friends who would be very negatively impacted if they were to contract this disease. 

We also have friends and family members currently working on the already overwhelmed front lines, who are urging everyone to please stay home. 

Also, as we understand, COVID-19 is contagious when carriers are asymptomatic. 

For all of these reasons, we have made the very difficult decision to take the recommended extra precautions to close the clinic for the next 2 weeks.

We plan to reopen for business again on March 30th, and will notify you if there is any change. 

WE ARE HERE FOR YOU

In the meantime, we are here for you.

Please feel free to email us with a any questions at all.

You can either email your WFH practitioner directly,
or our administrator info@wholefamilyhealth.ca

During the closure, we are also offering


DISTANCE VIDEO CONSULTS

Complete Health Audits

Treatment Plans

Chinese Herbal Consults

Contact us to book in.

Please come hang out with us on social media, we’ll be posting throughout the weeks with more information and tips on how you can support yourselves naturally throughout this time. 

Instagram @wholefamilyhlth
Facebook Whole Family Acupuncture and Massage Clinic

Please remember to stay hydrated, take your vitamins, wash your hands, avoid touching your face and practice social distancing.

Thanks so much for helping us keep everyone safe 🙂

In Health,
the WFH Team xo

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