Northern Health’s Online COVID-19 Clinic and Information Line has experienced “a significant increase” in call volumes in recent weeks, leading to an increase in wait times for assessment and information. The health authority says it is working to add to its staffing pool so it can increase call capacity and increase the hours of operation. (Lindsay Chung - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Northern Health working to reduce Online COVID-19 Clinic and Information Line wait times

The health authority says it’s working to add staff to increase call capacity and hours of operation

Northern Health (NH) is working to add more staff to its Online COVID-19 Clinic and Information Line to help reduce growing wait times.

“Northern Health’s Online COVID-19 Clinic and Information Line has experienced a significant increase in call volumes in recent weeks, leading to an increase in wait times for assessment and information,” NH states in a Sept. 17 news release. “We are working to increase the size of the Clinic staffing pool, in order to increase call capacity and hours of operation, and to reduce current wait times for assessment.”

Callers to the online clinic who are seeking assessment and referral for testing, as well as general information, have a few options, including waiting on the line for the next available nurse, or phoning back at another time.

“We strongly encourage northern B.C. residents who have a primary care provider, to contact their family doctor or nurse practitioner as a first step for assessment for testing, whenever possible,” NH states. “Primary care providers may be able to offer a virtual appointment to support COVID-19 and other health care needs.”

B.C. also has a Self-Assessment Tool residents can use if they are unsure whether to seek medical care or get tested.

Callers looking for general COVID-19 health information are encouraged to visit the Northern Health and B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) websites for answers to their questions.

NH asks that people who are experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms self-isolate and contact their primary care provider or the Online Clinic.

“Please do not head to a testing centre without an assessment and referral/appointment,” states NH. “This is for the protection of staff and other patients at COVID-19 test collection centres and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We recognize that waits for testing and results can be frustrating, but it is very important to stay away from others when you may be infectious to others.”

Following your test, there are a number of ways to get your negative results, including online, by phone or by text. Visit the BCCDC web page on Test Results, for more information.

The NH Online Clinic and Info Line is staffed by a pool of NH staff, nurses, physicians and nurse practitioners and can be reached at 1-844-645-7811. Current hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and statutory holidays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We greatly appreciate your patience while this work is underway to reduce current wait times for assessment,” NH states in the release.

READ MORE: Northern Health records 1st fatality due to COVID-19

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