As restrictions gradually lift in British Columbia and Alberta, services are starting to re-open. This could mean you get to visit your favourite coffee shop for a take-away latte, or finally get your hair cut! Your physician’s office, or medical clinic, is most likely re-opening as well, and starting to see patients for more urgent, or essential in-person visits.
Public health officials have made it clear that, while BC and Alberta services are gradually re-opening, COVID-19 will continue to spread throughout the provinces for months to come. To serve you safely, your clinic will likely have altered their typical operating procedures to continue to lessen the spread of COVID-19.
Not sure what to expect at your next appointment with your physician? Read below for information on what your next trip (or virtual visit) to the doctor might look like. You can also view the downloadable PDF for a specific guide to your next in-person appointment as one of our clients.
How clinics adapt to COVID-19
The Provincial Health Officer, the BC CDC, and Worksafe BC have declared that in person practices can resume in a safe manner that continues to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So while your clinic may be open, it may have some new procedures. The following guidelines from the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons have been recommended:
- Physicians will evaluate whether services should be performed virtually, or in-person
- Patients will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering a clinic
- Physicians will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for in-person services
- Patients will be asked to wear a face mask and sanitize their hands
- Cleaning practices in physician offices will be rigorous
- Physical distancing protocols of 2 metres will be maintained wherever possible
Physicians will be evaluating whether services should be conducted in-person or virtually
Virtual services, such as Medisys On-Demand, have been extremely useful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 80% of patients using Medisys On-Demand have their issues resolved within the app without requiring in-clinic visits. This means less exposure, reduced clinic visits, and less travel for the patient.
While clinics may be opening, many physicians will continue to evaluate whether services should be provided via virtual care, or in-person. Keeping in-person appointments to essential visits only reduces traffic within medical clinics, and lessens potential patient and physician exposure. Your physician knows you and your condition and will determine the appropriate method of medical care.
Examples of services available through virtual care:
- Treatment of common illnesses
- Help with anxiety or stress and primary mental health care
- Preventative care, disease prevention, health promotion
- Urinary, sinus, and minor skin infections
- Chronic disease management for high risk patients
- Complex care visits
- Palliative care
- Pre-natal and maternity care
- Youth health
- Weight loss
- Smoking cessation
- Lab and imaging review
Examples of services that may be carried out in-person:
- Physical exams for babies (well baby visits)
- Geriatric care
- Hospital care
- Emergency room medicine
- Essential surgeries
What you can expect from an in-person appointment at our clinic
Hygiene and physical distancing protocol:
Handwashing and sanitizing will be required before entering, and upon leaving the clinic. Frequently touched surfaces will be sanitized multiple times per day, and patient appointments will be staggered throughout the day to ensure that patient flow allows for the least number patients in the waiting room at one time. Physical distancing will still be maintained at our clinic, with PPE used for the safe delivery of in-person services by nurses and doctors.
If you are booked for an essential in-person appointment at our clinic, you will be screened for risk factors and symptoms of COVID-19 before entering the clinic, and your temperature will be taken. If screening reveals that you are at risk for COVID-19, you will be referred to a COVID-19 testing centre.
PPE (personal protective equipment):
For procedures that call for close contact between patient and physician or nurse, PPE will be worn by both yourself and your physician. You’ll be asked to wear a face mask upon entering the clinic. Your physician will be wearing full PPE, consisting of a gown, gloves, masks, eye protection, face shields and/or a respirator. Physician PPE will vary depending on the patient’s level of risk for COVID-19.
It is important to remember that although British Columbia is entering phase 2 of COVID-19 restrictions, we must continue to follow protocol to lessen the spread of the virus, which will continue to circulate in our province for months to come. Following protocol means that some services are temporarily adapted for public safety. Be assured that your healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to provide continuity and quality of care. If you have further questions about COVID-19 restrictions, and our clinic procedure, please contact us.