Health care for people living in northern B.C.'s rural and remote communities can now be as little as a phone call away, according to the provincial government.
A Northern Health "virtual primary community care clinic" was launched Tuesday. By calling 1-844-645-7811, a person "will be able to see a primary care provider and have access to efficient, same-day health-care services, in their own home, virtually," health minister Adrian Dix said in a statement.
The clinic follows on the COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line which launched in March 2020 as a temporary service.
With funding of $3.8 million from government in 2020-21, the virtual clinic is a permanent program with expanded services to include the delivery of primary and community care.
It can serve patients experiencing a variety of symptoms, such as skin rashes and infections, asthma and mild breathing difficulties, sprains, earaches and flu-like symptoms, according to the provincial government.
The clinic will also offer care for those experiencing mental health challenges or wanting substance use treatment, such as opioid agonist therapy.
The clinic has 28 full-time equivalent health-care providers made up of telecare and front-line nurses, clinic co-ordinators, administrative staff, a telecare team lead and a program specialist, with plans to expand in the future.
"This virtual clinic will make a meaningful difference in addressing our large geography and service availability in small remote communities," Northern Health CEO Cathy Ullrich said in the statement. "Since we launched the virtual clinic at the beginning of the pandemic, we've heard from many people about the difference an accessible virtual service is making in their lives."