Island clinics closing doors and opening phone lines to patients due to COVID-19

WatchCOVID-19 has caused many walk-in clinics across Greater Victoria to shut their doors. But as Julian Kolsut tells us that doesn't mean that you can't get help. it might just be a phone call away.

Some medical clinics across Greater Victoria are shutting their doors but opening their phone lines, as worries about COVID-19 increase.

Local clinics like those operated by Shoreline Medical are now conducting telehealth appointments, where patients can access medical help through a call.

“It’s basically like doing a virtual appointment with your doctor, like a Face Time visit. We are restricting in person visits to those types of visits that require a typical exam,” said Shoreline’s Executive Director Shawna Walker.

“What we really want the community to know is that we are not closed.”

The move is to protect staff and other patients from coming in contact with COVID-19.

As the province is still dealing with a family doctor shortage, many were used to waiting in lines to get a spot as a walk in.

Now the lines have left the front of the clinics, but the large numbers have moved to the phone lines.

“It’s quite remarkable,” said Dr. Andrea Lewis, Shoreline Medical’s  medical director.

“In one day between the two sites [we] have over 2,000 phone calls in one day, and our medical office assistants who are fielding these are overwhelming… but are doing an amazing job to try to field those phone calls.”

COVID-19 has also packed the provinces telehealth line, 8-1-1. Babylon by Telus Health is also trying to keep up with soaring demand.

It’s a way to keep medical services open during a difficult time, and it could be the normal for the next few weeks or months.

But medical professionals say just because you may have a cold or other mild symptoms, doesn’t mean you should pick up and dial.

“[My advice] if you are having mild symptoms, cold-like symptoms [is] to stay at home, and self isolate. If you feel like you are experiencing shortness of breath, or you are feeling very unwell and difficulty breathing it is warranted to go to the emergency room,” said Dr. Lewis.

But if you do worry symptoms are more serious than normal, they say to immediately look to find a way to access a doctor.

Regular patients from the clinic are now able to book their appointments online. Those who need to go to emergency are asked to call ahead to notify staff so they can prepare.

More details on Shoreline Medical’s clinics can be found here.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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