People who do not have a primary care provider to provide medical advice, COVID-19 related or otherwise, should call 8-1-1, according to Island Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
The advice comes on the heels of an article the Cowichan Valley Citizen recently published, called “Cowichan Doctors Offer Do’s and Don’ts During the COVID-19 Crisis”, that provided information and direction for people during the health crisis from the Valley’s physicians.
One email writer to the newspaper said what was missing in the article is advice for people who don’t have a family doctor, or general practitioner.
“I’m 65 and had two heart attacks and pneumonia twice in the last two years,” the email writer said.
“I have not been able to find a GP. In the last year I’ve phoned many offices and was told none are taking new patients or even taking names on the waiting list because the lists are hundreds of people long. At this time, a walk-in clinic is not a solution for me. So who do I phone if I need medical help or a prescription refilled?”
Asked the question, Island Health said calling 8-1-1 would provide the information.
8-1-1 is a free-of-charge health information and advice phone line operated by the Ministry of Health’s HealthLink BC.
By calling 8-1-1, people can speak to a health service navigator who can help them find health information and services; or connect them directly with a qualified medical professional.
“Obviously, it’s worth acknowledging (8-1-1) lines are very busy, so there may be a bit of patience needed with that,” said a statement from Island Health.
“If the medical need is urgent, call 9-1-1. With regard to prescription refills, Health Minister Adrian Dix has spoken to this, and pharmacists can give refills or an emergency supply of medications during this pandemic. Some information is posted at www.bcpharmacists.org/news/covid-19-public-information-prescription-refills-can-be-provided-pharmacist.”