Dear Fellow Sunshine Coast Residents:
It has been seven days since our Task Force was created to help inform the community and our physicians, to help plan our medical community’s response to the pandemic, and to advocate for the resources and support that our community needs. In the past week, our lives and your lives have changed in ways we couldn’t even have imagined possible a week ago. It is surreal, but yet it is very real, as we see the numbers of COVID-19 patients continue to rise across our province, nation and around the world.
Starting on Monday, March 23, we will be opening a Respiratory Assessment Clinic in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health. The clinic will run seven days a week from
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until this crisis is over. This clinic will be staffed by local physicians and will operate on an appointment basis only. We will not see walk-in patients. This is to help ensure the safety of our staff, as well as to maintain social distancing.
For those who are homebound or otherwise too high risk to be out in public, we will also provide a daily outreach service so that people can be seen in their own homes.
The Respiratory Assessment Clinic is primarily intended for people in our community who have cold or flu-like symptoms and feel their symptoms are severe enough to warrant assessment by a physician, but not severe enough to require ambulance transport to the hospital. If you are breathing comfortably in your bed while watching Netflix, you do not need to be booked in.
To book an appointment at the Respiratory Assessment Clinic please call 604-740-1252 any time after 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 23. If you are unable to get through by phone you can also send a text to that number or email us at email@example.com and someone will call you back as soon as possible.
Once you have been assessed over the phone by a physician and are determined to require further assessment, you will be booked in for an in-person visit. If you’re lucky, you will be advised to stay home.
In the meantime, if you believe that your symptoms are severe enough to warrant assessment by a physician, please call the BC COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-COVID19. You can also use the online self-assessment tool at https://covid19.thrive.health.
Please note that regular medical clinics will no longer be seeing patients with new onset cold or flu-like symptoms, and during daytime hours the Emergency Department will only be seeing suspected COVID-19 patients who are sent by the Respiratory Assessment Clinic or brought in by ambulance.
If it is after hours and you are having cold or flu-like symptoms severe enough to warrant assessment by a physician, please call ahead to the hospital to let them know you are coming in. If your symptoms are severe enough to require ambulance transport, please call 911.
We will continue to see all other non-COVID-19 Emergency Department patients according to the usual process. Please understand that the Emergency Department is expected to become very busy, so please only come in if you have a true medical emergency.
We would also like to remind you that regular medical care will continue to be provided by our medical clinics across the Coast. Most of this care will be done with virtual visits and phone calls, to help contain the spread of COVID-19. If your physician determines that you need to be seen in person, arrangements will be made to do so.
With respect to the COVID-19 situation on the Coast, we currently do not have any COVID-19 positive patients in Sechelt Hospital. However, given that we are currently only swabbing symptomatic health care workers and symptomatic patients who are admitted to hospital, we should continue to act as though COVID-19 is here and spreading.
As the number of COVID-19 positive patients continues to rise rapidly elsewhere in British Columbia and the rest of Canada, we appear to be sitting on the edge of a precipice. We implore those who are not yet staying home and practising social distancing to do so now before it is too late to save those you care about.
If you develop mild symptoms and need to self-isolate, please visit the BCCDC website for instructions (http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19).
Our next Community Update is planned for Monday, March 23, but we will post an update if there are any significant developments over the weekend. Please check the Coast Reporter website regularly for updates on COVID-19 in our community, and tune in daily on Eastlink Community TV at 5:30, 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. Stay tuned to Coast FM as well, for any breaking news regarding COVID-19.
Please visit the Gibsons, Sechelt and SCRD websites for daily updates regarding community services and our local response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep well, wash your hands, keep your distance, and stay at home unless you have a medical emergency or another essential task!
The Sunshine Coast COVID Physician Task Force
Dr. Jennifer Baxter
Dr. Ted Krickan
Dr. Herman Mentz
Dr. Brian Nelson
Dr. Daren Spithoff