Call your doctor’s office to see how they can help during COVID-19.
No matter what’s going on in the world, your regular health concerns don’t stop. Neither does your doctor. Right now, doctors across Manitoba are still available to help with your essential health concerns as we adapt to COVID-19. That help extends to everything from prescriptions and ongoing chronic conditions, to injuries and other illnesses.
Doctors are here to help you. They may provide a phone or video appointment. If an in-person visit is needed, doctor’s offices are taking public health precautions to screen patients, disinfect more frequently and apply social distancing advice in common spaces like waiting rooms.
Most importantly, your doctor can help you decide if you should seek care now, or wait. Don’t self-diagnose, or simply assume they’re not available. Just call your doctor first to get advice. They’re ready to help.
If you are worried that you may have COVID-19, use the Shared Health online screening tool or call 1-877-308-9038. If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
Here are the answers to some common questions people may have:
Isn’t it better to stay at home rather than see your doctor?
It’s best to call your doctor’s office to find out. Putting your health needs on hold can cause bigger problems later. Many doctors are now offering phone and video visits, or virtual visits, in place of in-office visits.
If an in-person visit is needed, follow public health advice about social distancing and hand hygiene. Doctors are following public health advice to minimize the risk of COVID-19 in their office and keep you safe.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, has advised Manitobans to continue seeking care. “I want to ensure that individuals keep in touch with their health care providers and ensure they are on top of their current medical conditions,” Dr. Roussin said in a recent public health address, “Many visits can be done virtually.”
Isn’t a health facility the most likely place to catch COVID-19 right now?
Fair question. Medical clinics and other health facilities are taking extra steps, even more than grocery stores and other essential services, to keep you safe. This includes more screening and cleaning:
- Screening patients on the phone and at entry, to isolate them or to redirect potential COVID-19 patients testing clinics or other locations.
- Decreasing in-person patient visits by offering virtual visits.
- Reducing patients in common areas like waiting rooms to follow social distancing advice.
- Following provincially-recommended cleaning protocols to increase disinfection of common areas and exam rooms.
Is my health issue suitable for a phone or video visit?
Many people are surprised just how many health concerns that doctors can assess over the phone or on a video call. If you’re unsure, start by calling your doctor’s office to ask.
Whether it’s monitoring a chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease, seeking care for depression, physical aches and pains, sexual and reproductive health, or other illnesses, your doctor will help determine whether you should seek care now, or if it’s better to wait.
In other countries, health organizations have reported that more than half of their patient encounters are now completed virtually rather than in-person.* While it is relatively new to medicine in Manitoba, phone and video appointments are increasingly common tools to deliver services in other industries around the world.
*Barkholz, D. “Kaiser Permanente chief says members are flocking to virtual visits.” Modern Healthcare, April 21, 2017 https://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170421/NEWS/170429950/kaiser-permanente-chief-says-members-are-flocking-to-virtual-visits
Are virtual visits secure?
Just like online shopping or email, Virtual Care has inherent privacy and security risks. Your health information may be intercepted or unintentionally disclosed.
In order to improve privacy and confidentiality, you also should take steps to participate in this video visit in a private setting and should not use an employer’s or someone else’s computer/device as they may be able to access your information.
If your doctor determines you require a physical exam, you may still need to be assessed in person. You should also understand that virtual care is not a substitute for attending the Emergency Department if urgent care is needed.
If you have questions about security and privacy, contact your doctor’s office.