As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice has provided an update for Keremeos residents on how to continue to access primary care. (Black Press Media file)

How Keremeos residents can access health care during COVID-19 crisis

Information includes how to book an appointment, how to access emergency care, long-term care, more

[Submitted by Heather Allen, SOS Division of Family Practice Communications Lead]

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice has provided an update for Keremeos residents on how to continue to access primary care.

Booking an appointment:

Patients needing an appointment with a family doctor in Keremeos are asked to call ahead for care at the South Similkameen Health Centre at 250-499-3000, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The doctor will then determine whether you can be seen over the phone, by video, or if an in-person appointment is required.

These measures are meant to reduce the risk to all patients and staff as well as to conserve valuable personal protective equipment for health care providers, which are used every time a patient is seen in clinic or the emergency department for any reason.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, all local residents – whether you have a regular family physician or not — are welcome to call to book an appointment,” says Keremeos physician, Dr. Marina Louw.

Emergency care:

Anyone with a time-sensitive emergency such as severe breathlessness, chest pain, loss of consciousness, stroke symptoms or traumatic injury should phone 911 for ambulance transport to the emergency department. Patients who do not take an ambulance are asked to please phone ahead to the clinic at 250-499-3000, during office hours, or 250-499 6098 after hours, so emergency room staff are able to prepare for their arrival.

Patients who have non-critically time-sensitive issues, but think they require a visit to the emergency department, are asked to call for a consultation with a family doctor. If the clinic is not open, please phone 811 for advice. If neither option is available, call 250-499-6098.

Long-Term care:

Keremeos providers are working together to ensure that residents at our local long-term care units continue to receive care, primarily using telehealth appointments to limit personal contact and reduce transmission risk to this very vulnerable group. Please note that long-term care facilities are currently closed to visitors and the public.

“To protect the health of those currently living in long-term care, there are provincial restrictions in place limiting visits to essential visitors only,” says Interior Health director of clinical operations, Jon Clare. Please be assured that visits for those clinically-assessed as being end-of-life will be accommodated.

Further assistance and information:

If you have donations of personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and other needed supplies for medical staff, please call the clinic at 250-499-3000.

“We, as physicians, want to thank the community for doing their part and all the support and donations we have received,” says Dr. Louw.

Everyone is encouraged to follow provincial recommendations about staying home and safe social distancing practices listed on the BC Ministry of Health’s HealthLink BC website (www.healthlinkbc.ca). More COVID-19 information is available on Interior Health’s website (https://news.interiorhealth.ca/covid-19/).

Visit Keremeos.ca for up-to-date information on municipal building closures, links to COVID-19 facts and trends, care centres, preventions measures, and to sign up for Keremeos’ notification system, which allows residents to receive immediate emergency communication. Those without computer access, can sign up by calling the village office: 250-499-2711.

Heather Allen can be contacted at heather.allen@sosdivision.ca

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