(Files by Dione Wearmouth-MyPGNow)

Northern BC residents will soon have same-day access to health care supports needed as a new Virtual Primary and Community Care Clinic is being created.

The virtual clinic will be staffed with 28 full-time healthcare providers, and can be accessed from 10 am until 10 pm any day of the week.

It will be staffed with telecare and front-line nurses, clinic coordinators, administrative staff, a telecare team lead, and a program specialist.

“This virtual clinic will make a meaningful difference in addressing our large geography and service availability in small remote communities,” said CEO of Northern Health, Cathy Ulrich.

It will serve patients experiencing a variety of symptoms, such as skin rashes and infections, asthma and mild breathing difficulties, sprains, earaches, and flu-like symptoms.

It will also offer care for those experiencing mental health challenges or wanting substance use treatment, such as opioid agonist therapy.

With $3.8 million in provincial funding, the virtual clinic is a permanent program with expanded services to include the delivery of primary and community care.

It builds on the success of the COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line that was launched in March of last year.

“Since we launched the virtual clinic at the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve heard from many people about the difference an accessible virtual service is making in their lives,” added Ulrich.

This project is part of an ongoing enhancement of digital patient care options involving technology, including the recent launch of HealthELife and Northern Health Check-In online tools.

“We believe that this approach will be pivotal in ensuring B.C. families can access the health care they need, and we are excited to see the launch of a permanent virtual-care clinic,” added Michael Sandler, Executive Director of Nurses and Nurses Practitioners of BC.

Working in collaboration with existing community-based primary care services, the virtual clinic is a regional primary and community care service, connecting people to care when they need it most.

The clinic will also function alongside the First Nations Health Authority Doctor of the Day program.

People living in the Northern Health region can access the clinic by calling 1 844 645-7811.