Coronavirus: Montreal-area medical clinics adapting to new reality in the era of COVID-19

Some Montreal-area medical clinics have been changing how they do things amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

From booking appointments to assessing patients, a bid to limit the spread of the disease has meant a new normal in the city.

At the Statcare Clinic in Pointe-Claire, patients who arrive are screened before they even enter the facility to find out if they pose a potential danger to staff and other patients.

“We have a nurse sitting outside the clinic doors that is screening patients that might have been exposed to COVID-19,” said Eleanor Phealn Mootoosawn, the clinic’s director.

In the event the patient does pose a potential risk, their contact information is taken down and a doctor will get in touch with them to do an assessment over the phone, Mootoosawn told Global News.

They may also be directed to the government’s 811 coronavirus hotline.

“If the patient is not at all exposed to COVID-19 as per the doctor and the doctor feels he needs to see them for something other than this, then the patient is asked to come to the clinic and they are allowed in,” she said.

Similarly, patients calling the clinic are being registered for what is being dubbed a “tele-med” appointment. Essentially, a doctor will call the patient back and will direct them to come to the clinic if they feel an in-person appointment is necessary.

According to Mootoosawn the new screening methods are having the desired effect.

“In the past, people lined up and came into the clinic so you had maybe 50 people sitting in one room. Now we don’t; we have maybe two people sitting in the waiting room.”

Mootoosawn said implementing social distancing in the health, care network is crucial.

While for some it may seem like having to jump through hoops to get an appointment with a doctor, patient Carlos Hernandez didn’t see it as a problem.

“I think it’s good,” he said. “I think we have to take care of each other.”

Mary, who preferred not to give her last name, was advised to seek medical help at a walk-in clinic by her family physician but hesitated to do so, fearing an overcrowded waiting room.

“The thought of being in a crowded clinic did not make sense. I’m over 65 and this is the opposite of what we are being told,” she said, adding that her doctor reassured her it would be okay.

Mary expressed relief when she arrived at the clinic.

“I’ll be seen as a single person without a crowd,” she said, adding everyone is doing what they can.

Nearby, at the Brunswick Medical Centre, many of the same measures are in place to ensure the safety of both the patients and staff.

Personnel working at the clinic admitted not having to deal with crowds is easier on them too.

Despite apparent advantages to tele-consultations, management at the Brunswick clinic couldn’t say if they would become a permanent fixture.

“It could, but I think right now no one is thinking that way,” said Brunswick Medical Center’s president and CEO Vince Trevisonno.

— With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter

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