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Opinion: Look to Primary Care Networks for COVID-19 support

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DNA image of COVID-19. (via Getty Images)

The Thanksgiving holiday prompts us to nurture gratitude – the appreciation of the good in our lives past and present – and it reminds us to think of our neighbours who are in need. On the top of the list, our personal connections.

Pandemic Thanksgivings are all the more poignant. We value our relationships more than ever and miss the social gatherings and physical connections we once took for granted: family celebrations and meals with friends, handshakes and hugs.

Some have been even more isolated, including the elderly in long-term care facilities and people living alone in the community.

Throughout the pandemic, Burnaby’s Primary Care Networks have coordinated social supports in our community. If you or someone you know is a Burnaby resident and requires some assistance, please connect on their website at https://burnabypcn.ca/social-supports/

Family physicians have remained connected with their patients in different ways throughout the pandemic. For a short period of time, almost all consultations were virtual – by phone or video; however, family practice clinics are now providing a mixture of phone, video and in person visits. Of course, each clinic must adhere to provincially mandated infection precautions including the wearing of surgical masks by all.

Because many patients believe their regular physicians are not available, they may have put off the necessary check-ups to maintain health, including regular screening tests for cancer, diabetes and other important health conditions. Some have let significant symptoms linger longer without seeking medical care.

Through the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients public health education program, I’ve created handouts, slides and videos to remind our entire community of what screening test are required at different ages and what type of physical symptoms should prompt a visit to your doctor.

This information is freely available on the Division’s website. Look for the links to the Empowering Patients program.

On October 21, I’ll be speaking on the Patient-Doctor Relationship, providing practical tips on communicating with any healthcare provider and collaborating to achieve your personal goals.

I’ll also talk about the key information you should ask your doctor or any other healthcare provider so that you can make an informed decision and give consent to medical procedures, investigations and medications, including vaccines.

For any of these choices, you need accurate information about the potential side effects, common risks and uncommon serious risks, and alternatives to the proposed treatment. Sometimes the decision is straight forward and sometimes, as in the case of COVID-19 vaccinations, complex. As a family physician, I welcome a dialogue with my patients to help them make those personal decisions.

To learn more and sign up for this free Zoom workshop, check out the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s website: https://divisionsbc.ca/burnaby/for-patients/empowering-patients

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, read his blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.