More than 700 doctors on southern Vancouver Island have issued a plea to the public during the COVID-19 crisis.
They’re asking for the public to step up their social distancing, and are also letting Islanders know how to access medical services.
“Take this situation seriously,” said Dr. Aaron Childs, from the Victoria Division of Family Practice.
“We need people to be staying home, we need people to wash their hands frequently and we need people to know if they are going out they need to be practicing social distancing, which means staying at least one to two meters between others.”
If you think you need to see a doctor, there are new protocols in place.
What do you do if you come down with symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, like a cough or fever? Medical professionals say it might not be the best idea to go straight to a walk-in clinic or emergency room. They say you should start online.
“Use the self assessment tool, this can be found on the B.C. CDC website,” said Dr. Andrea Lewis, Shoreline Medical- Medical director.
“It’s a powerful tool that allows patients to insert their symptoms, and will deliver them to an endpoint that will either direct them to call 811 or to call their family physician or go to the emergency room.”
If you do need to go to a walk-in clinic or your family doctor, many on the Island are taking appointments over the phone, or even online like what Dr. Childs’ office is using.
“First I would ask you how you are feeling, if you are trouble breathing,” said Dr. Childs while demonstrating an online appointment.
“If you are having a fever if you are having any known contacts with anyone with coronavirus. The next trick question I ask is how what else you’ve been doing, to see how well you have been self-isolating.”
All the steps are in place to avoid what doctors fear most, an outbreak that overwhelms the Island’s medical system.
“It’s a matter of manpower, a matter of equipment, its a matter of just being able to manage so many patients and still trying to protect healthcare workers from getting sick,” said Dr. Lewis.
“The thought is overwhelming, and we have seen other areas struggling to keep up.”
Exactly how long these new steps will be in place is unknown.
A link to the self-assessment tool can be found here