The physical offices of Shoreline Medical Services in Sidney and Central Saanich (Brentwood Bay) remain closed, but doctors continue to meet with patients online or over the phone. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Saanich Peninsula doctors dial up telehealth care

Patient visits at Shoreline Medical Services now happen online or over phone

A local health care provider says its offices in Sidney and Central Saanich (Brentwood Bay) remain physically closed for now in the face of COVID-19, but ‘open’ in the sense that physicians will continue to provide medical care by phone or online.

“We are open, just using a different model of care to provide physician-patient visits,” said Shawna Walker, executive director of Shoreline Medical Services, the non-profit foundation operating the two clinics.

Residents with family doctors at either clinic can book appointments online at shorelinemedical.ca by clicking on the “book an appointment with your doctor” or log into “Health Myself Portal” at healthmyself.ca and select one of the two telehealth options, be it phone call or video.

Residents without family doctors, who use either location as a walk-in clinic, can still make an appointment with a Shoreline doctor by calling either of the clinics – Sidney at 250-656-4143 (then press 6) or Brentwood Bay at 250-652-9191 (then press 4, then press 3).

She said these new measures — which eliminate in-person visits for now — help reduce exposure to COVID-19 for all patients and staff.

READ ALSO: Lack of doctors causing frustration for patients

“It’s vitally important that we all play our part in helping to flatten the curve of this epidemic by following government advice and observing social distancing,” she said.

Walker said Shoreline Medical had been planning for the new system before March 12 when Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called on British Columbians to practice social distancing to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections.

During appointments, physicians and patients make plans regarding next steps, Walker said.

“We are taking every precaution to keep the patients, physicians and support staff safe,” she said. “Our clinics are being cleaned and sterilized to a high standard and we are committed to abide by the guidelines given to us all from health officials. Shoreline Medical is still here to serve and help the community, just in a different way, for the time being.”

Shoreline Medical Services is asking the public for patience, as it currently receives 3,000 calls per day.

The Brentwood clinic has nine family physicians and one doctor that usually handle walk-in cases Monday through Friday mornings. Sidney has 12 family physicians and two doctors for walk-in cases Monday through Friday and one doctor on Saturday.

Walker said is not clear yet when the clinics will physically re-open.

“Right now, Shoreline physicians are working with other community physicians and Island Health to prepare for centralized community clinics where in person patient exams [and] treatment can be done for patients who need them,” she said. “These community clinics will assist in reducing the amount of exposure to COVID-19 for patients, physicians and support staff.”


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