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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Communities in northern B.C. are used to challenges while trying to access health care; the province and Northern Health are trying to cushion the blow.

A “Northern Health Virtual Primary and Community Care Clinic” launched Tuesday to provide residents in the health region with same-day access to health-care support. People living in the Northern Health region can access the clinic by calling 1-844-645-7811.

“People living in rural and remote communities in B.C. have faced challenges in accessing health care for too long. The launch of the virtual clinic will mean that people will be able to see a primary care provider and have access to efficient, same-day health-care services, in their own home, virtually,” says  Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, in a statement Tuesday.

The clinic expands on the province’s efforts in March 2020 with the temporary COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line. The new clinic will be a permanent fixture after receiving $3.8 million in funding from the government.

The virtual clinic 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.

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

The clinic has 28 full-time equivalent health-care providers made up of telecare and front-line nurses, clinic co-ordinators, administrative staff, a telecare team lead and a program specialist, with plans to expand in the future.

 

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