A screen shot of the downloadable instructions from the virtual doctor website.

Virtual care now available for Yukon patients

Yukon government and Yukon Medical Association roll out online portal for doctors’ appointments

Patients can now stay at home when speaking with their doctors.

In a bid to maintain social distancing while not interrupting health care delivery, the Yukon government and the Yukon Medical Association rolled out virtual care last week.

There are two parts to it. Appointments can occur over the phone or by video chat.

The services are available in Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Dawson City. Work is being done to introduce these options to communities.

“Right now, we feel this is the safest way to do it,” said Dr. Katherine Smart, president of the medical association.

If it’s absolutely necessary, patients can go to their doctors’ offices still, but they have to be screened in advance by phone and test negative or be without symptoms, said Smart, noting that those with COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, coughing or difficulty breathing are being advised to visit the respiratory centre located in downtown Whitehorse, which was announced last week. The centre was open on March 25, with some personnel wearing protective gear. Seniors are able to get assessed from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; hours for those with a referral are between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. It doesn’t accept drop-ins.

What’s key is that people are totally honest if there is to be an in-person visit, Smart said.

“Just that people are really honest with us about their travel history and their symptom, because this all falls apart if they don’t tell the truth and then end up being seen in an inappropriate setting. …” she said.

She noted that unlike the respiratory centre or hospital, physicians have limited access to protective equipment at clinics.

“As physicians we have hundreds of people through our offices every day,” Smart said. “It’s sort of the opposite of what we’re wanting to do, in terms of limiting the spread of COVID-19. Even though there’s only two cases in the Yukon, it’s a rapidly evolving situation, so our goal is to be ahead of that so that we’re being proactive and not reactive.”

Yukoners interested in accessing this type of care can visit yukon.ca/covid-19.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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