CK doctors move forward with virtual care amid pandemic

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Babar760

Primary care providers within the Chatham-Kent Ontario Health Team (CKOHT) are reminding patients that services are still available, despite challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, medical care does look a little different in most cases.

Over the last few months, the Chatham-Kent Family Health Team, Thamesview Family Health Team, Tilbury District Family Health Team, and Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres (CKCHC) have taken a virtual approach — in most cases — to serving patients.

“While many appointments and services may not be delivered through traditional in-person settings, we remain committed to high-quality patient care,” said Dr. Briana Yee-Providence, co-chair of the CKOHT Steering Committee. “To keep our patients and staff safe, we have had to significantly change the way we deliver care but our priority remains to provide care to our patients. We are utilizing telephone and video conferencing to help support interactions and care delivery between providers and patients.”

In a recent media release, Kelly Griffiths, executive director of Tilbury District Family Health Team, said the majority of visits now are done virtually or by phone.

“We are still offering some programming, however, some group and other specialized services are temporarily on hold,” said Griffiths. “We are still supporting same-day urgent care visits which are now phone appointments instead of walk-in.”

In the meantime, approximately 80 per cent of daily appointments at the Thamesville Family Health Team are done over the phone or video.

“We are offering virtual appointments where possible and when appropriate, which also allows us to preserve our personal protective equipment and ensure we have adequate supply to continue to offer in-person visits when needed, for months to come,” said Denise Waddick, executive director. “Thamesview is also offering online booking for some appointment types, including suture removal, certain shots and bloodwork.”

Although care is being offered within the Chatham-Kent Ontario Health Team, some group programs have been put on hold during the pandemic and hours have been limited at the Walpole Island Community Health Centres for in-person care.

“We continue to offer virtually based services at all sites Monday through Friday and we are using our YouTube channel to provide new learning segments aimed at keeping active and inspired by healthy eating,” said Sherri Saunders, executive director of CKCHC.

Further details of services being offered can be found on the CKOHT website.