[Submitted by Heather Allen, SOS Division of Family Practice Communications Lead]
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice has provided an update for Oliver and Osoyoos residents on how to continue to access primary care.
Booking an appointment:
Patients in Oliver and Osoyoos needing an appointment with a family doctor are asked to call ahead to their family medicine clinic, or walk-in clinic. A doctor or nurse will then determine whether they can be seen over the phone, by video, or if an in-person appointment is required.
Physicians want to reassure the public that they are still available to provide care for health concerns. “
We’re simply shifting to seeing patients by phone or video where it makes sense,” said Dr. Kevin Hill.
“Physicians and health care providers can not socially distance, so this move helps us conserve PPE and reduce contact while still providing needed care.”
Anyone with a time-sensitive emergency such as severe breathlessness, chest pain, loss of consciousness, stroke symptoms or traumatic injury should phone 911 for ambulance transport to the South Okanagan General Hospital emergency department. If a patient has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and they haven’t spoken with their family doctor, they are advised to call ahead to the hospital or from the parking lot (250-498-5000).
Patients who have non-critically time-sensitive issues, but think they require a visit to the emergency department, are asked to call for a consultation with a family doctor. If your family medicine clinic is not open, please phone 811 for advice.
Local physicians meet virtually every week to discuss how to best provide care to residents in long-term care facilities, while protecting this vulnerable population. Appointments over the phone and by video are used at facilities wherever possible. If an in-person appointment is required, some physicians are working together to provide cross coverage.
“This is our effort, in addition to limiting visitors, to really make sure we are not contaminating residents,” explained Oliver physician, Dr. Margaret Myslek.
Osoyoos physicians are also doing as many appointments as possible by phone or by video.
“We’re still able to go into a facility if an in-person appointment is required,” said Osoyoos physician, Dr. Rob Calder.
He noted these visits take place only when necessary, and with extreme care.
“Our facilities are really doing a lot of work to protect residents from potential transmission. They are screening everyone at the front door, even physicians. I have to answer a set of questions just like everyone else when I go in to see the patient, and, of course, wear full protective gear.”
Please note that long-term care facilities continue to be closed to visitors and the public.
“To protect the health of those currently living in long-term care, there are provincial restrictions in place limiting visits to essential visitors only,” explained Interior Health director of clinical operations, Jon Clare.
Please be assured that visits for those clinically-assessed as being end-of-life will be accommodated.
Further assistance and information:
Osoyoos residents can find updated information on their community’s page: www.osoyoos.ca. The town of Oliver has information on their website: https://oliver.ca/. This includes a daily-updated COVID-19 page containing frequent messages from Oliver’s mayor, as well as links to provincial information, local resources for seniors, and economic resources.
Oliver mayor Martin Johansen thanks the community’s first responders, physicians and all other workers providing essential services in the community.
“Please know your dedication to your patients and community wellbeing is very much appreciated,” said Johansen.
“Thank you for stepping up to meet the challenge, being the real hero’s in this fight and putting your lives at risk for us.”
Everyone is encouraged to follow provincial recommendations about staying home and safe social distancing practices listed on the BC Ministry of Health’s HealthLink BC website (www.healthlinkbc.ca). More COVID-19 information is available on Interior Health’s website (https://news.interiorhealth.ca/covid-19/).