The medical director for the Whistler Health Care Centre (WHCC) is reminding residents once more to not put off a visit to the facility for urgent medical issues during COVID-19.
“It’s been found in the Lower Mainland emergency departments that there’s an incidence of delayed presentation that they’re concerned about, especially with heart attacks and strokes,” explained Dr. Bruce Mohr, adding that he's also noted the trend locally. “People are showing up late for conditions that they need to be going to hospital for. It’s out of a perceived fear of the hospitals and also that they don’t want to overburden the system. What they need to know is that the emergency departments and hospitals are safe and that they have the capacity to see patients.”
Mohr estimated the healthcare centre was currently hovering around 25 per cent capacity, and with the additional sanitary and physical-distancing measures in place, patients can rest easy visiting the facility.
"With the current COVID climate, which isn't going away, everything takes longer to look after and takes more space," he said. "That's something that's going to take time. It's going to be a very new normal, but we certainly have capacity to see more patients than we are currently seeing. We're concerned that some people are avoiding coming in and we don't want that to happen."
For primary care needs, patients should continue to contact their family doctor or specialist for advice.
Those without a family doctor can access the virtual walk-in clinic established in March by the Sea to Sky Division of Family Practice. Through that portal, accessed at divisionsbc.ca/sea-sky, patients can consult with a GP and set up a primary care appointment by phone or teleconference as required.
With the announcement that Coast Medical Whistler, one of three local family practices, would be permanently closing its doors May 29, patients there should visit HealthLink BC for a referral to walk-in clinics and health resources available in the area. HealthLink is accessible by dialling 811 or visiting healthlinkbc.ca.
Walk-in clinic Town Plaza Medical remains open, with patients being asked to call ahead.
As the B.C. government readies to begin gradually lifting restrictions, Mohr said it is even more important to stay the course on proper physical distancing and self-isolation measures.
“[Provincial Health Officer Dr.] Bonnie Henry said we’re quote-unquote close to reopening, so I just have a concern. That’s the right thing to say but there are always those people that want to get to the front of the line,” he noted. “We have to maintain individual and community vigilance, and what that means is maintaining the physical distancing, wearing a mask when we’re in grocery stores, transit, etc. when we cant maintain that physical distancing, washing our hands well and being prepared. We’ve come down over the first wave and we weren’t badly affected by it, but I know there will be some sort of second wave coming and we’ve got to be vigilant about that.
“If the virus isn’t in you, it dies, so you got to keep it out of you.”