Dear Patients of Spectrum,
It wasn’t long ago that I uncomfortably watched footage of shoppers overseas waiting in long lines to enter a grocery one by one under the eye of security. It seemed impossible to me that COVID-19 would generate an equivalent disruption here in Canada – and even more impossible that we could be as patient under the same circumstances! Yet, today this is exactly what I see in Vancouver and I feel a sense of pride in the resolve and understanding of our community. Of course, we’ve all seen people bend the rules – holding picnics at English Bay or passing too close on the sidewalk but by and large (and now backed up with data) Canadians have risen to the challenge. We’re staying home, making sacrifices, and it seems to be working in British Columbia. As of today, the number of people in the Intensive Care Unit with COVID-19 in BC is falling. This statistic is particularly useful because it is independent from the number of tests we perform, and it really shows us exactly what we want to know – how many people are getting very ill from the virus. That said, it’s time we double-down on self-isolation and continue to bend that curve. I know it’s hard and made even more challenging by the fact that we don’t have a clear end-date for these recommendations. But we do have the power as individuals to change the trajectory of this epidemic. If you’re struggling to stay optimistic, I recommend you visit https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/covid-19-and-anxiety for practical strategies on how to manage.
In addition to social distancing, we might further influence the spread of this virus by wearing a cloth mask. Public health messaging around masks has been confusing and there are two main reasons for this. First, there is little evidence that masks can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and if used improperly it may actually increase your risk of infection. Second, there is a concern that diverting supplies of masks for personal use might result in a lack of inventory for health care workers who are at very high risk. A great review of the use of masks can be found here https://youtu.be/blUeRGMOog0. Your Spectrum team supports Dr. Theresa Tam’s recommendation to consider wearing a home-made or purchased cloth mask for those times where you will undoubtedly be in close contact with others. This might be at the grocery store, pharmacy, or even visiting your doctor at Spectrum.
Spectrum’s doors are open for urgent medical issues requiring an in-person encounter after consultation with a doctor or nurse. However, the majority of our care remains virtual for now. After much hard work we are launching secure video messaging with your physician, nurse, or pharmacist in addition to telephone appointments. We feel that this initiative will enable a more valuable, natural experience with your healthcare provider. A detailed description of hardware requirements and booking instructions will follow in a separate email. We remain committed to delivering the highest quality of care we possibly can during this turbulent time and hope that seeing a familiar face – even a virtual one – will help you through this.