GORE BAY – A Gore Bay doctor warns that while COVID-19 may not have arrived on Manitoulin Island yet, chances are very good it is coming.
“If COVID-19 isn’t in the community, it will be soon,” stated Dr. Shelagh McRae at the Gore Bay Medical Centre this past Monday. “It is extremely important that people take part in social distancing (two metres) from other people and self-isolate (for people who have travelled outside the country, who think they have the virus or have tested positive for the virus).” What this means is avoid contact with other people, stay at home and monitor your systems, even if they are mild.
“We have a lot of snowbirds and travellers coming home now and have a lot of seniors who would be especially affected by COVID-19,” stated Dr. McRae. “You may not have COVID-19, but chances are very good you will know people that get sick from it soon.” The Gore Bay Medical Centre has established a new website that will provide needed information on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, about social distancing and self-isolation and updates at GoreBayMedicalCentre.ca
A letter to patients from Doctors McRae, Robert Hamilton and Chantelle Wilson of the Gore Bay Medical Centre reads, “Gore Bay Medical Centre. As many of you are already aware, over the past few days the situation in Ontario regarding the COVID-19 (the illness caused by novel coronavirus) has been rapidly changing. The risk of infectious spread of this disease is rising in Ontario at present, so we are taking measures to protect you now.”
Coronavirus spreads through sneezes, coughs and direct contact that transmit the virus from an infected person. You need to lower your chance of coming into contact with persons who are, or who may be infected, the letter explains. “While still meeting your health care needs, in order to slow the spread of the virus we plan to do everything possible to decrease the number of people in our waiting room and clinic.”
The medical centre is changing some of its regular office appointments to telemedicine consultations (video or telephone consultations) using Ontario Telehealth Network (OTN) connections to reach patients in their home. When you call for an appointment, you may be offered a video appointment or telephone consultation with your doctor. The video appointments will require that you have a computer, tablet or cell phone and access to the internet. Video links through OTN are secure and confidential. For more information regarding video appointments, follow this link: https://otn.ca/patients/evisit/
If you do not have a computer or internet connection, the medical centre may offer patients a telephone consultation if appropriate.
As for appointments at the clinic, some conditions will still require an actual visit to the clinic for an examination or procedure. In-clinic visits will be by appointment only.
The doctors suggest that patients call 705-282-2262 if they think they need to be seen. The medical centre is not accepting drop-in or walk-in appointments at this time.
The doctors’ letter notes that for returning travellers, “in some cases, COVID-19-infected persons may be contagious even before they have any symptoms. If you are returning home from international travel to any country in the last 14 days, including the United States, or if you have had contact with a patient confirmed to have coronavirus, please stay home and isolate yourself. Do not go to work or gatherings or public areas, and do not use public transportation. Even if you have no symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, you should self-isolate at home for 14 days.”
If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing you may need to be tested for the coronavirus at an approved COVID-19 assessment centre. Assessment centres on the Island are located adjacent to the emergency departments in Little Current (call 705-368-2300) and Mindemoya (call 705-377-5311). You must call ahead for an appointment.
If you have severe shortness of breath or are extremely ill, call 911.
You may also contact Public Health (SDHU at 705-370-9200) for more information about coronavirus and COVID-19, or for update information go online to https://www.phsd.ca/health-topics-programs/diseases-infections/coronavirus
If you have more questions about COVID-19 and the coronavirus, or whether you need to be tested, you may also call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.