Members of B.C. First Nations can now access virtual primary health care thanks to a new program set up by the First Nations Health Authority and the Rural Coordination Centre of B.C.
The First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many First Nations communities to shut down or reduce operations in their health centres. This program is designed so people do not need to go without a doctor for their primary health care needs through the crisis.
“It is our ongoing priority to remove barriers and promote the delivery of culturally-safe, appropriate primary health care,” said the FNHA’s interim Chief Executive Officer, Richard Jock. “The First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program is part of our overall COVID-19 response. It is intended to assist individuals who do not have access to primary health care services or have had their existing services disrupted.”
People with regular doctors or nurse practitioners are asked to continue scheduling appointments with them. The program is intended for people who do not have existing relationships with health care workers.
Appointments can be made by calling a toll-free number. A team of Medical Office Assistants triage and schedule appointments and set people up with doctors for short video appointments. Clients use computers, phones or tablets with internet connection, a headset or earbuds (if there is no private space available for the call), and an internet connection. A phone-only option is also available for those without reliable internet. FNHA has chosen Zoom as the app for the program, which is available for download on phones, tablets and computers.
The booking call centre is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days per week. To make an appointment, call 1-855-344-3800. The service is free and available to First Nations clients from across B.C.