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Website Update March 2021

It has been quite some time since we last updated this website. For this reason, this update is rather long but contains important information.
First, some words about the Covid vaccines and the rollout. We recognize that there has been a great deal of confusion and we want to try to clarify things as best as we can. However, we are currently experiencing a high volume of calls about the COVID-19 vaccines. This has made it particularly difficult for patients to get through to book appointments and to discuss other urgent concerns. We understand that there is a great deal of confusion related to the vaccines and their roll out. Most recently, the impression has been given that family physicians will be offering the shots in their office imminently. While we have planned for and hope to do so in the future, even for us the information is not very clear. We do not know if or when we will be getting vaccines.

For this reason, we ask that you direct your questions related to vaccine details to:

covidquestions.ca

For questions related to eligibility and where you can get the vaccine, use the following sites:

covidto.ca or vaccineto.ca

Or call:

1-888-385-1910

If you have any questions specifically related to your medical condition and the vaccines, please book an appointment with your doctor.

As soon as we get an update related to Covid immunization in our office, you will be informed.

Presently, there are four vaccines available and likely there will be more. Before any of these vaccines have been approved, their safety and effectiveness have been carefully analyzed. Which vaccine you receive is not in our hands but is being determined by a variety of considerations, including availability, ease of provision, and age. This—and the general rollout—is being supervised by Public Health. Be comfortable getting whichever vaccine you are offered. The bottom line is that they all are very effective and the more people immunized, the greater the likelihood of achieving the all important herding effect.

Please DO NOT register at multiple sites. This will not improve your chances of getting a vaccine and will only lead to sites crashing and greater delays. Please DO call us to book an appointment with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding such matters as contraindications to getting the vaccines given your health status, the medications you are on etc.

Second, a summary of what has been happening in terms of our office and where things stand:

As you can imagine, there has been a huge paradigm shift in how we are operating and it has taken time to adjust. Moreover, there has been so much unpredictability that it seems as though we have to keep shifting gears. We are proud of the fact that, from the beginning ,we were quite ahead in terms of allowing for (limited) in office care while providing expanded virtual care. We are doing everything we can to ensure continuity of care, while observing safe measures.

Beginning in late August and early September, we were getting many calls from patients wondering why our office had not returned to its pre-Covid functioning. This was because, while the rest of the province was “ramping up“and shifting to stage III, doctors’ offices were still in stage I. This meant— that from an accessibility standpoint—we had to continue offering in office visits on a limited basis. In order to maintain social distancing, infection control, etc. each of us was only able to see 1/3 to 1/2 the number of patients we would normally see in a day. Moreover (again in order to maintain control) only one or two of us could be in the office at the same time. As a result, we reserved this time for patients who had necessary acute needs that needed to be seen and essential preventative concerns such as childhood immunization, Pap smears, etc. This meant that we had to postpone many elective visits. As much as possible, we augmented our virtual care availability tremendously so that patients would have access in this way. This has meant long days and seven day weeks. Our wish was that within a few months, we would be back to normal. However, while we hoped for the best, we prepared for the worse.

Sadly, Covid is still with us. As a result, we have had to further adapt. This has meant that we must continue the measures that we have implemented from the beginning in order to provide service while maintaining safety for all. We recognize the frustration that you are all feeling. We too are feeling the same way.

We would like to address some of the other concerns that some of you have expressed.

Some of you have told us that at times it is hard to connect. Clearly, the number of audio/video patient requests and visits have increased exponentially. What also has increased dramatically has been the number of calls and emails that we are getting. Our staff has been working hard to keep up with these but this is not always possible. Part of the problem is that many of you continue to use two or three methods of contact when you do not hear from us right away. As a result, two staff members may be working on the same patient issue. This represents a huge waste of time and manpower. This is why we are asking that you choose one method of communication only and that you remain patient in terms of receiving a reply. Many offices have implemented a minimum 72-hour callback system. We tried to avoid this but finally reluctantly decided that we had no choice. With respect to virtual calls, whether they are audio or visual, some offices have given ‘windows’ of 4-8 hours during which a call can be occur. We have avoided doing this but we do ask that you be patient and understand that we may be very behind on the calls because we cannot anticipate some of the things that we are dealing with virtually.

Many of you have asked us when can you be seen for routine matters such as physicals. For the most part, we are continuing to postpone these. As stated above, we are focusing on necessary visits for such things as preventative care (standard routine childhood vaccinations, Pap smears, colonoscopies, mammograms, etc.).

We also have been receiving many requests for notes related to school or work. Please understand that we cannot write notes stating that a particular symptom is not Covid. We cannot write a note stating that someone does not need to wear a mask. There are very few exceptions to this rule. In very limited circumstances, we can write a note excusing someone from school or work because of particular risk factors.

We are excited about another initiative: the acquisition of high -quality air purifiers/cleaners. We feel that having these in our office is not only good for the present but also ensures a safer environment in the future.

Like all of you, we were concerned about the impact that the winter season would have on everyone. This is a time when many symptoms that have been associated with Covid appear. We were prepared for the onslaught of calls related to symptoms that may be Covid but just as likely may have been a simple virus. This too may have affected accessibility. But the worse (from that perspective) is over.

With the shorter days and the colder weather of winter, we knew that the sense of isolation would likely increase. We have been encouraging everyone to be positive, to find new outlets: the books you wanted to get to, the hobby you were hoping to start, the clutter you have been meaning to address. Most important, find comfort and strength in family and friends. Have faith. This cursed Covid will pass……

Spring is around the corner, vaccines are on their way. Continue to stay safe and stay healthy!

The Forest Hill Family Centre Family

Forest Hill Family Health Centre | 416-782-6111