Health centres and clinics in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area have not been overwhelmed by patients in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Medical director Dr. Drew Digney said the number of patients visiting the Oceanside Health Centre is currently low, which he indicates is a good.
“People are being very wise,” said Digney. “They’re listening to the advice that’s being put out there which is unless you absolutely need anything, stay home. Our volumes are quite low which is actually good.”
Digney credits the online self-assessment test for helping people make the decision on whether to come down to the clinic or not.
“They’re excellent,” said Digney. “They’re very well done. I am quite impressed with it.”
For those who are concerned about the coronavirus, Digney strongly advocates the use of the provincial test that contains questions about severity of symptoms, travel history, and instructions on what to do if someone does in fact need to be attended by a doctor.
“It walks people through a series of questions and helps direct them where they best need to go and what they need to do,” said Digney.
Those wishing to access the self-assessment tool online can go to covid19.thrive.health
The Oceanside Health Centre has now changed the way they do things. Digney explained that the urgent care component has been split into two streams — those with respiratory issues and those who don’t. They’ve also changed the way they’re assessing people that come in.
Rather than the standard approach of coming in, seeing the triage nurse, then being brought in to see a nurse then seeing a doctor, Digney said they’re now applying the same tools on the self-assessment test.
“So it may be you hit the front door and you get asked a series of questions and you’re told you’re going to be fine, go home and self-isolate,” Digney explained. “You may not see another nurse or physician. We’re not turning anybody away. We’re seeing everybody. We’re doing a very focused, sort of triage assessment, about whether you need any kind of urgent medical care. If you don’t we’re asking people to go home and stay there. If they grow worse, they obviously need to come back.”
Digney said they needed to implement changes to ensure that the health centre’s operation is not totally disrupted as they still have to tend to other health issues and concerns.
“We want to make sure we keep the populations apart and look after everyone to the best of our abilities,” said Digney. “So everything is doing well right now, knock on wood. There no major issues at this point.”
Since launching the self-assessment tool on March 16, more than 500,000 have tried the test online. Aside from the new website, the province has now started a new phone service to provide non-medical information about COVID-19, at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or by text message at 1-888-268-4319.
Anyone who thinks they may have the novel coronavirus should also contact HealthLink BC, by dialling 811.