Hoe u op dit moment toegang krijgt tot gezondheidszorg in Nova Scotia als u geen huisarts heeft – TheChronicleHerald.camei 17, 2020
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A Halifax family physician says fear of contracting COVID-19 shouldn’t stop people who don’t have a family doctor from seeking the health care they need.
“We’re in a time of chaos and it’s very hard to think clearly,” says Maria Patriquin. “So, I think (addressing this issue) requires a high degree of clarity and simplicity so that people know what to do when they have a health-care concern.”
Where to access general health care
There are several ways people without a family doctor can access health care for non-COVID health issues while staying safe.
The first option is a walk-in clinic.
“They have really limited hours so it’s important to check their websites to find out if they’re staffed for a particular time,” Patriquin says.
Calling ahead is important as walk-in clinics are screening everyone seeking care to ensure they don’t have symptoms related to COVID-19 such as a cough, fever or difficulty breathing.
Another option for non-emergency care is calling 811.
Pharmacies are also offering virtual or in-person assessments for minor ailments such as nausea and minor muscle and joint pain. People should contact their pharmacy beforehand to find out more about fees for this service.
Pharmacists can also prescribe medication for shingles, uncomplicated urinary tract infections and contraception. Those assessments are covered by MSI.
What to do in an emergency
A spokesperson for the NSHA said in an email that people without a family doctor should call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room in case of a non-COVID related health emergency.
“I think people are concerned that they’ll be waiting a long time or that (the emergency room) will be really congested and that’s not true,” says Patriquin.
While some people are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 such as those diagnosed with cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, Patriquin says people shouldn’t wait for their symptoms to get worse before seeking care.
“The concern is that there are going to be people that will succumb to those illnesses before they succumb to COVID because of not having the medical attention that they need.”
It can be difficult for people to know if their condition requires going to the emergency room or a walk-in clinic. Patriquin says people can gauge how serious a situation is by being more mindful of their health.
“If you’re 50 and you’re having chest pains and other symptoms consistent with cardiac conditions, then the safer thing is for you to seek the care of an emergency room, but if you’re generally fit you’re more unlikely to (have cardiovascular disease).”
Interim primary care access
The clinics are temporary and will reduce demands on emergency departments by addressing health concerns that can be treated in a family practice setting, according to an email from the NSHA primary care team.
The Northern health zone, where the clinics were established, has the second-highest proportion of people without a family practice in the province, according to a report by the NSHA. The zone encompasses Colchester East Hants, Cumberland, and Pictou County.
Nova Scotians who live in these areas and are registered to the Need a Family Practice Registry can contact the clinics directly to schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with a physician or nurse practitioner.
Primary care access clinics in Glace Bay, Halifax, Kentville and Lunenburg do not offer this service.
People on the registry are contacted directly by these clinics, chronologically, based on the order they have added their names to the registry and according to the capacity of each clinic to see new patients.