A note from Dr. Nel Wieman and Dr. Kelsey Louie, FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer
An emergency is an emergency whether it occurs during a pandemic or not. Dramatic decreases in emergency room visits over the past weeks may indicate that BC residents are not going to the hospital when they need to, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix has noted. Respect for the health providers working on the front lines of the pandemic, as well as COVID-19 concerns, may be why people are staying home when it might be better for them to go to the hospital.
As physicians, we want to reassure you that the provincial health system is doing well and is not overwhelmed by people with COVID-19. We also want to emphasize that if you do require hospital care, whether it is COVID-19-related or not, please go to the hospital. Delays in going to the hospital can contribute to a number of unintended consequences including poorer health outcomes, health issues significantly worsening, and the potential for other complications.
Remember – your health and wellness are important! Our primary health care system has the capacity to serve you due to the great work that we are all doing to “flatten the curve." Please seek urgent care for physical or mental health issues when you need it.
Ways to access non-COVID-19-related care during the pandemic:
• Virtually: Members of BC First Nations without access or with limited access to their own doctors or nurse practitioners can now make virtual appointments using the new First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program. The program enables BC First Nations individuals to access primary health care closer to home.
Photo via BC Gov Flickr
• In-person: As BC Health Minister Adrian Dix has emphasized, the health system is there for you. He encourages people to go to the hospital if they need urgent care. Note that many hospitals have new protocols in place to limit the number of visitors and to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Expect some things to be different from in the past, e.g., most workers will be wearing a lot of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves as front-line workers. Be sure to respect the new guidelines to keep yourself, your family members and health providers safe.