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Virtual Clinic Offering At-Home Health Assessments

A virtual walk-in clinic manned by volunteer doctors has been set up for Cranbrook and Kimberley residents without a regular physician to get assessed for COVID-19 and other illnesses amid the pandemic.

The service is available online or over the phone from the East Kootenay Division of Family Practice. Patients will be asked to fill out a questionnaire before speaking with a health care professional.

“Once we talk to our patients, we assess if we need to arrange for a physical exam. If people are doing appointments over Zoom or other online platforms, they can do some of that physical exam that way,” said Dr. Alisa Sanregret, family practitioner. “Obviously it’s not the ideal way we like to practice medicine, but we’re making adjustments to try and keep the community healthy and safe.”

While getting a check-up from the comfort of your home may be convenient and safer given the pandemic, assessing patients in a virtual setting or through a phone call instead of an in-person visit presents some unique challenges for doctors.

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 “If we do it over the phone, we’re not able to lay eyes on our patients and assess them in that physical context. It’s also difficult because it can be hard to offer reassurance and counselling over the phone. We often rely on a lot of non-verbal cues and those aren’t necessarily there,” explained Dr. Sanregret. “We have to make sure that we’re really thorough with our history taking. If patients have concerns or there are things they don’t feel are addressed, it’s important to tell your family doctor that you feel like something was potentially missed.”

Sanregret emphasized that doctor’s offices and clinics are still open to address patients’ health concerns during the pandemic.

“I want to make sure that people are aware that their family physicians are here, not just through this virtual walk-in clinic, but through our regular practices. We are offering our services in a bit of a different manner right now, but we want our patients to know that we still care about them,” said Sanregret. “People still get sick, people still need to be hospitalized, that doesn’t stop just because there’s a pandemic going on. I don’t want people to think that they can’t access care because of what’s going on.”

The walk-in clinic is intended for people without family doctors, those who do have a physician can still contact them to speak about any health concerns. Appointments for the virtual clinic can be scheduled here.

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