Ellen Peterson, executive director of the Langley Division of Family Practice says things community testing clinics will alleviate some of the brunt of exposure Langley doctors are facing on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic (Aldergrove Star files).

Langley doctors now able to refer patients to COVID-19 testing clinics

With changes Monday, waiting rooms have disappeared as doctors try to keep patients a safe distance

Community testing clinics will, as of Monday, alleviate some of the brunt of COVID-19 exposure Langley doctors are facing on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Before Monday, the 38 family practices, 100 community physicians, and 12 nurse practitioners treating Langley’s sick had been suited up in full gear to test patients who show symptoms of the virus.

Doctors suited up head-to-toe in protective gear before visiting those sickened with virus symptoms. And instead of their office, those being tested were asked to wait outside in the parking lot or their car.

A swab sample taken would be expedited by the doctor’s office to the BC Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Test results would be delivered, with Fraser Health also notified of its results.

Now, after the B.C. CDC updated its protocols, executive director Ellen Peterson of Langley’s Division of Family Practice is saying there’s a new option for doctors – to refer patients to community clinics that were created Monday.

Patients will – only after a doctor referral – venture to the clinic and be swabbed, said Peterson, executive director of Langley Division of Family Practices.

The screening changes come as COVID-19 cases in British Columbia rise to 103 and four have died from the virus.

“Things have changed. If you develop a cough and want to know if you have COVID-19. Langley doctors will not likely test you,” Peterson said.

That is unless symptoms worsen. Then, the next step for the severely ill would be the nearest ER, she added.

It is hospital patients, those in long-term care, and healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 who will be tested first.


Patient influxes, waiting rooms disappear

Langley doctors are also facing a significant influx in patients due to the fear surrounding COVID-19.

As of recent, crowds of patients have stood outside walk-in clinics, hoping to be the first in line, Peterson explained.

“Do not do this – because by the time you come in [if you have COVID-19] you’ve already exposed countless other people. The spread is much further than we initially hoped. It is significant while we are out and about in the community.”

Waiting rooms have also been eliminated, Peterson said.

“Doctors are avoiding having people sit together at all.”

Instead, patients being seen for non-virus related ailments are whisked straight into examination rooms to maintain safe distancing measures.

“But not all clinics are there yet,” Peterson said about the latest protocols. New information about COVID-19 is being disseminated daily to physicians, she said.

Thankfully, Langley’s top medical clinics are sharing tips and safe practices to others, Peterson added.


Doctors urging patients to call-in first

Langley physicians are asking those who hope to book an appointment to first call in and be screened, with questions including whether they have a fever or difficulty breathing.

“Get advice from the doctor’s office to see where you fit before coming in,” she said.

This is to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19, Peterson explained.

For anyone displaying cold symptoms, doctors are asking them to get home right away and stay home.

Similarly, “if you feel sick today I do not want you coming to a clinic for a doctor’s note – that is a ridiculous reason,” she added.

Doctors need to utilize their free time to update rapidly depleting medical supplies – including masks and testing swabs – and update their teams on the newest protocols in fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Peterson urged people to keep doctors and medical office assistants in mind during visits.

“Stay home.”


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