Dear Patients of Spectrum,
To mask or not to mask just might be the question of this pandemic. While initially mask wearing was discouraged due to a lack of evidence that they were protective, it is now clear that they have a role in the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. We strongly recommend that you wear a mask when you visit Spectrum and consider it for any other situation where it will be difficult to maintain two meters of physical distance. Masks are designed to prevent the dissemination of droplets from you to others by trapping particles within electrostatically charged fibres. There are three basic types of masks available. Disposable surgical masks are most recognizable and are effective at protecting others, but they do little to protect the wearer from infection. The more sophisticated N95 mask is designed to create an airtight seal and protects both the wearer and others. N95s are much more expensive and can be uncomfortable to use properly. They should be reserved for individuals working in high-risk environments. Multi-layer, reusable cloth masks have in some ways become a symbol of COVID-19 and new evidence indicates that they are very effective as well. Like surgical masks they protect others – not the wearer. Several local and national fashion brands like Roots and Old Navy have cloth masks available and there are many videos online describing how to make your own out of used clothing. Experts talk about a potential “second wave” of COVID-19 as restrictions are eased. Creative solutions such as environmentally friendly cloth masks may be one way of mitigating this risk if enough of us buy into mask culture.
We want you to feel safe if you are asked to visit Spectrum in person. We have adapted our waiting area to comply with public health recommendations. You’ll see appropriately spaced seating and new plexiglass barriers between yourself and our employees. Staff will screen you for symptoms of COVID-19 when you arrive to ensure the safety of everyone in the office. Many people have been asking about when we will be booking complete physical examinations. For the time being we are only managing urgent issues physically in the clinic in compliance with current recommendations. Feel free to set up a telephone appointment with your doctor to discuss appropriate screening examinations that can still be done during COVID-19. Most laboratories are open, including St. Paul’s Hospital laboratory – although we’ve heard that they have long waits. We’ve done our best to keep our clinic running smoothly throughout this pandemic and hope that any contacts you’ve had with us have been seamless.
We’ve noticed an uptick in Spectrum patients visiting online physician services such as Babylon and Viva care. Please remember that as a Spectrum patient, you are a participant in a novel project that aims to improve the delivery of primary medical care in British Columbia. Our unique model, which utilizes a team-based approach, strives to provide you with comprehensive medical care and eliminate the need for visiting walk-in clinics or other providers. To ensure timely access to a doctor or nurse we’re available for telephone, video, or in-person consultation (after a screening phone call) when it’s convenient for you. Furthermore, our doors are open from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday for drop-in STI screening kit pick-ups. The Spectrum model for delivery of care has become an example for other clinics around the province and may in fact become the standard of care in BC. Yet in order for it to stay successful, you must avoid using walk-in clinics and online services outside of Spectrum.
Though the sense of urgency and uncertainty regarding COVID-19 has begun to ebb, Spectrum continues to stay up to date on new research as it becomes available. We will adjust our procedures in line with the science and recommendations from our exceptional provincial public health team. Until our next update, stay distanced, stay sensible, and stay well.
-Your Spectrum Team