A virtual clinic for the Williams Lake area will host its first appointments on Monday, Oct. 26 for patients without a primary health care provider.
Patients attending appointments through the Bridge Care Virtual Clinic will use a video conferencing system or phone as a back-up, said Jill Zirnhelt, executive director of the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice.
“It’s completely virtual — there is no bricks and mortar or a physical place to go,” Zirnhelt said, noting the virtual clinic will be staffed by doctors from Williams Lake and 100 Mile House who even though they are completely full recognize that there are not a lot of options for people who are not attached to a physician.
Visits will be part of the BC Medical Services Plan and are covered when patients provide a Care Card number.
People who have appointments through the virtual clinic will not be attached to the doctor they see because it will be a place for people to seek care until they are attached to a primary care provider.
The Bridge Care Virtual Clinic is not designed to be a long-term solution, hence the name ‘bridge care.’
“Everybody is still working very hard at securing the primary care providers that the region needs, but this is just a solution to help bridge that gap until we are in a different situation than we are,” Zirnhelt said.
Once the website is activated there will be online booking at bridgecareclinic.ca by clicking on “Booking an Appointment Now,” and filling out the intake and consent forms.
From there patients will be e-mailed a link to click on that will provide them with the designated time for a doctor appointment.
Waiting list being developed for people without a primary health care provider
A centralized wait-list is being created to connect patients with a physician or nurse practitioner when they become available to take new patients in the Williams Lake area.
“It is a first-come-first-served basis with some provisions for prioritizing patients who are assessed as having urgent or complex care needs,” Zirnhelt said.
People can register themselves or family members by going to www.caribooattachment.ca and filling out a web form.
If someone does not have internet or is having difficulties, please call toll free 1-844-333-0440, Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for help filling in the forms.
Zirnhelt said if a patient declines the provider they are given they will be able to go back on the list one more time.
“We know patients are very concerned about the availability of physicians in our region. This wait list will provide a reliable way for people to register that they are looking for a primary care provider and allow us to connect them with one as soon as possible,” said Dr. Doug Neufeld, a family physician in Williams Lake and chair of the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice.