A new program has been developed to virtually connect B.C. First Nations to primary health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. (First Nations Health Authority photo)

Virtual program helps more than 100 Indigenous families access primary care

The First Nations Health Authority has rapidly deployed its Virtual Doctor of the Day Program

The number of calls being made and patients receiving care through the First Nations Virtual Doctor program is increasing daily.

A collaboration between the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), Rural Coordination Centre of B.C., and Ministry of Health, the program was developed to virtually connect members of B.C. First Nations to primary health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Surprisingly the challenges that were anticipated as potentials were not realized and this program was created with minimal issue,” said FNHA Director of Primary Care, Megan Hunt.

Read More: B.C. First Nations Health Authority launches virtual doctor program

Since launching April 1, she said there has been strong uptake of the service.

“The program has assisted over 100 First Nations families needing to access primary care in a culturally safe and timely manner. Community reach has spanned across the province from Port Hardy to Atlin Lake.”

In total 31 physicians, 10 of which are Indigenous providers, are participating in the program as of April 28.

The FNHA has recently extended an expression of interest opportunity to all physicians in B.C interested in working with the program as the FNHA expands services to meet demand.

“The program will be running over the next year and we are working with our partners to further enhance the ongoing delivery of the program,” Hunt said.

The First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day can be accessed by telephone at 1-855-344-3800 if internet is not available. Additionally, the videoconferencing software is able to be used over cellular data where internet may be challenging or absent.

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