Doctors in Salmon Arm have rallied together to provide a respiratory clinic for the community in response to COVID-19.
On Monday, March 30, the Salmon Arm Community Respiratory Triage Clinic opened its doors from 4 to 7 p.m., just as it will be doing from Monday to Friday as long as it’s needed.
Located at 781 Marine Park Dr. NE, in the currently closed Seniors Health and Wellness Centre, the clinic will also be open Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
However, it is not a walk-in clinic and not for complaints other than respiratory ones.
People with respiratory problems must first speak via the phone to a doctor or nurse practitioner. If a person doesn’t have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, they should call 778-489-5191 to arrange for an urgent, same-day appointment.
“Ideally it is someone who has connected with their family doctor virtually and the family doctor thinks this person needs a hands-on, in-person appointment,” said Tracey Kirkman, executive director of the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice.
That person would be sent to the clinic where they will be examined. The symptoms to watch for with coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Kirkman also pointed out the respiratory clinic is not a testing site for the virus and is not meant to replace the site being run by Interior Health. However, if someone has gone through pre-screening and meets the criteria, they can be tested.
The intent of the clinic is to allow people access to care if they have respiratory problems, as well as keeping people away from the hospital’s emergency department and their family doctor’s office in case they have COVID.
“We were lucky we had a space, we were lucky the physician group came together wanting to do something, and we had tremendous support from our medical office assistants in the community…We had the people, we had the space and we had the supplies,” Kirkman said.
Some supplies have come from the various clinics and some from the community, she added. Surgical gowns made by Keren Huyter ,of Huyter House Sewing and Design, will be used for patients at the clinic as well as some surgical masks made in the community.
Kirkman expressed her appreciation for all those who have stepped up to help.
“I think that’s the beauty of living in smaller communities. Everybody rallies.”
She also emphasized that people who are sick with illnesses other than respiratory ones can still access care and should make sure to get the help they need.
Family doctors are still treating patients as are the medical clinics. Just phone first.
Overall, washing hands and social distancing appear to be making a difference in B.C.
“The messaging from the province…is what we are doing is working, so let’s keep doing it,” Kirkman said.