Dear Fellow Sunshine Coast Residents:
With summer just around the corner, minimal COVID-19 activity across the province, and everyone adjusting to the new normal, this will be our last Community Update for a while. We are continuing to prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 in the coming months, but will be shifting our focus to our clinical responsibilities until that happens. In the meantime, should there be significant changes in local recommendations or a local COVID-19 outbreak, we will make sure to update you as soon as we are able.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for everything you have done over the past three months to protect our most vulnerable and to help our community. Although we did have a few isolated COVID-19 cases on the Coast, your efforts helped us avoid a major outbreak, and prevented our hospital and health-care workers from becoming overwhelmed. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Thank you too for all the encouraging words and kind gestures that helped keep our health-care and other essential workers going during a stressful time! We are extremely proud and thankful to be a part of such an amazing community. Although it has been hard for many of us, there have also been many positive changes and initiatives that have come as a result of our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully we will all continue working to make the Coast an even better place to live.
As you are likely aware, new COVID-19 cases have remained stable at about 10 to 12 new cases per day in British Columbia since the BC Restart began last month and there have been very few deaths in the past two weeks. This is very encouraging, given the increases we are seeing with reopening in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Here on the Coast, we continue to see close to 40 people per day for potential COVID-19 symptoms at the Respiratory Assessment Clinic. This does not include patients with potential COVID-19 symptoms who are seen and tested at Sechelt Hospital. Although we have been testing everyone with possible COVID-19 symptoms since early April, we have not had any positive COVID-19 tests in over two months, which indicates that our local COVID-19 prevalence is currently very low.
That being said, our ongoing success is going to depend on us following the key principles that have allowed us to keep our rates low. We are still in the early stages of a global pandemic that continues to expand around the world, so we must keep on doing what we can to protect our community. As we begin to travel off-Coast, and as people continue to visit the Coast from places with higher rates of COVID-19 infection, there remains ongoing risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in our community.
This means everyone needs to keep doing their part by maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask when physical distancing can’t be maintained. Please continue to wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face (unless you have just washed your hands). Please don’t hug or shake hands with anyone outside of your family and continue to avoid large gatherings (especially indoors) if at all possible. We recognize that there are important reasons to gather right now, but please make sure to wear a mask if you do attend ongoing protests or demonstrations.
If you do develop new cold or flu symptoms (no matter how mild), please stay home and self-isolate until you have been assessed. Please call your family doctor or the Respiratory Assessment Clinic (Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) to arrange for further assessment. The Respiratory Assessment Clinic can be reached by phone or text at 604-740-1252 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are currently testing everyone with possible COVID-19 symptoms, so please do not hesitate to call if you become ill. If you have more severe symptoms and believe you may need to be admitted to hospital, please go to the Sechelt Hospital Emergency Department. If you need an ambulance, please call 911. Please remember that the Emergency Department is open and safe for anyone with a medical emergency.
With respect to non-emergent non-COVID-19 health issues, our local medical clinics remain open Monday to Friday, with walk-in services available through the Gibsons Medical Clinic from Monday to Saturday. Please note that all family medicine clinics on the Coast are currently seeing patients who do not have a local family doctor, so do not hesitate to call your nearest family medicine clinic if you need medical care.
In order to provide as safe an environment as possible for both patients and staff, the majority of medical care will continue to be provided virtually, either by phone or by video call. This is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, with in-person appointments being arranged only if the need is identified during a virtual visit.
If you have a medical issue that requires a physical assessment, an in-person appointment will be arranged with your family doctor or another doctor at that clinic. Please note that due to social distancing recommendations, you will need to check in by phone when you arrive at the clinic and will have to wait in your vehicle until your doctor is ready to see you.
If you do not have a mobile phone, please inform the receptionist when booking your appointment and alternate arrangements will be made. Please do not knock on the clinic doors, as we are trying to minimize staff and patient contact that could potentially transmit COVID-19 infection.
Please check the Coast Reporter and The Local Weekly regularly for updates on COVID-19 in our community. As local parks, programs and facilities open up, please visit the SCRD, the Town of Gibsons, and the District of Sechelt websites for updates.
Keep well, wash your hands, keep your distance or wear a mask, stay local if you can, and please keep doing everything you can to keep our community safe!
The Sunshine Coast COVID Physician Task Force
Dr. Jennifer Baxter
Dr. Ted Krickan
Dr. Herman Mentz
Dr. Brian Nelson
Dr. Daren Spithoff