Summerland Doctor Kristy King has opened up her home, via her webcam, to assist those in need of medical advice or diagnostic during trying times. King spoke with the Western News via virtual medical appointment, which patients in need can book online for free. (Screenshot - Google Chrome)

COVID-19: South Okanagan doctor offering free virtual appointments to anyone in need

With more clinics closing, many left wondering how they can get the medical assistance they need

For those seeking medical advice but unable to find it, there’s hope.

A South Okanagan woman has opened up her home, via her webcam, to assist those in need of medical advice or diagnostic during trying times.

READ MORE: World COVID-19 evening update update March 20: Wuhan reports no new cases, Canadian cruise ship passenger dies

As clinics around the province close or remain open only to emergency patients, many have been left wondering how, and when, they can find the medical assistance they need for more basic, but essential needs.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Kristy King of Summerland felt it necessary to do what she could to not only help those in need, but also elevate some of the strain on emergency centres.

“I think that everybody is feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, and some patients are needing to get in to see their doctors and clinics are closed,” said King.

“I want to make myself available. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t try to all work together through this.”

For those concerned about symptoms in relation to COVID-19, King says she’s willing to work through this with the patient and examine whether it’s appropriate for them to stay home and self-quarantine, versus going to the emergency room.

King says she’s also willing to talk to anyone about anything, including basic needs such as medication refills. No webcam? No worries. King is offering phone call appointments as well, scheduled through her Genbook account online (link at the bottom).

King advised that anyone with a family doctor should still contact them first. If no appointments are available, King says she’s willing to help.

Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters during the daily COVID-19 briefing on March 20 that HealthLink BC staff are dealing with 3,000 to 4,000 calls per day. The newly launched non-emergency COVID-19 hotline saw 1,800 callers in the first 24 hours.

As of Friday, March 20, 17,000 people in B.C. had been swabbed for COVID-19, health officials confirmed, with more than 300 positive cases.

READ MORE: B.C. man with COVID-19 symptoms forced to call 811 more than 100 times

King’s regular practice, Rosedale Medical Associates walk-in clinic, remains open for those in need, with adjusted parameters.

Performing virtual calls to patients is something King has been meaning to implement into her practice for a long time, however she said the coronavirus is, “certainly enhancing our motivation to do so.”

King says the medical field is moving into a new era. COVID-19, she says, has prompted a huge shift towards the use of more technology in the field. This, she says, is a positive change.

For seniors who may not have access to a computer, and their local doctor’s office is closed, King says there are other options, including a simple landline call.

The challenge, she says, is scheduling and disseminating the information she gets from patients.

If possible, she’s hoping a neighbour or friend could help them schedule a virtual appointment in order to keep things more organized and streamline.

King believes that locally, health authorities have a handle on the current COVID-19 situation.

“I think locally we’ve done an excellent job,” she said. “Interior Health really responded appropriately and kept the virus very well-contained… I think we’re seeing that reflected in the comparatively small numbers.”

Going forward the doctor said that people need to realize the coronavirus is serious, and although the extreme measures taken may seem ‘quite extreme’ to many, by doing these things, “we are going to prevent a huge disaster here.”

“I think just understanding that a global pandemic like this is inevitable,” King said. “It’s going to be a wake-up call for us to understand that there’s going to be more of these, and we’re going to have to be careful and change the way we do things.”

As a final piece of advice: “Stay safe, wash your hands, self-isolate.”

To book an appointment with Dr. King, click here and select ‘virtual office visit’.

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

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