Dear NFMN patients,
The past few months have been trying for everyone. COVID-19 has impacted everyone. This letter outlines the steps we are taking to provide safe, on-going care, and provides advice on how to protect yourself and those close to you. Note especially the steps to take if you develop symptoms that could suggest COVID-19.
We are not seeing any patients with respiratory symptoms including cough, sore throat, fever and/or runny nose. Patients with these symptoms who would like to speak to their doctor should call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a phone or video consult.
Many of you have already experienced our clinics response. Public Health currently recommends that visits with physicians be virtual (telephone or video) when possible. In- person visits will be offered in specific cases, for baby visits, pap smears and for routine immunization.
We will have 2 physicians in the office to accommodate these appointments. Despite not being in the office we are checking messages and emails daily.
However, there are more e-mails and phone calls than usual right now. All our doctors are also working outside the office in new ways, to help the pandemic effort. We are doing the best we can under extreme circumstances. Please understand:
- we will be aim to respond to emails within 1-2 business days
- your request will go to your doctor, nurse, or physician assistant, who will determine the level of urgency required
- if you have not heard back within 2 business days, email or call us again
- we are not doing full physicals during the pandemic
- almost all concerns will be managed by phone, email, or video call
- very few concerns will be managed with an office visit
Please note that when you arrive to the clinic the door will be locked, call or knock when you arrive and we will let you in safely. In keeping with social distancing practices, only the person with an appointment will be allowed into the office. Of course for well baby visits one adult will be permitted in. However, if you or your baby have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, aches, or are unsure what to do please call before coming. All patients will receive a screening email prior to their appointment to limit everyone's risk.
WHAT TO DO IN TERMS OF YOUR OVERALL HEALTH AND PROTECTION
First, remain calm. We know it is not always easy but if we are calm and follow basic principles of hygiene and social distancing we will all be better off. Second, be informed. We are all being inundated with multiple reports from multiple sources and it can be overwhelming. Please consider turning to the recommendations coming from the Ministry and Public Health. Lastly, if uncertain, contact us. We will do our best to answer your questions or direct you to where they can be best answered.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 OR ARE CONCERNED ABOUT SYMPTOMS THAT COULD BE COVID-19
Please do not come to the office. Go to a COVID-19 Assessment Center for screening and testing (please wear a mask and maintain social distancing when doing so). This will allow for accurate diagnosis and help with contact tracing.
Contact us or Public Health of Telehealth Ontario if you are particularly concerned.
The number for Public Health Unit in Toronto the number is 416-338-7600 and Telehealth is 1-866-797-0000.
IF YOU HAVE SIGNIFICANT RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS, SHORTNESS OF BREATH, OR CHEST PAIN, YOU SHOULD GO TO THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT.
We appreciate your commitment to our office and the trust you have in your care providers. We will continue to update things as they evolve. We will get through this together.
The Staff and Physicians of New Family Medicine Network
When you do come to the office, please:
-you need an appointment (please don't drop in)
-wear your own mask that covers your mouth and nose (mandatory for entering into the building)
-read the questionnaire on the door
-knock on the door and we will let you in
-hand sanitize x 15 seconds
-do not touch your mask or face while in the office.
Thank you for helping us to continue to care for you safely.
This video gives tips on how to use a mask correctly, and how to store it for future use :
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
1. How can I get a Flu shot this year?
To protect yourself, it is important to get a flu shot every year, and this year is particularly important because of the risk of COVID-19 too. We are working with the North York Family Health Team and Public Health to determine a safe and efficient way to deliver the flu shots this year. We will provide more information on this once it becomes available.
2. Should I send my child back to school in person?
This is a challenging question. Every person needs to decide for themselves based on their own particular circumstances whether they are comfortable doing so. Some factors to consider when making this decision: 1) the prevalence of the virus in your specific area (currently low in the GTA, but may change), 2) the supports put in place by your child’s particular school, including class size, procedures for physical distancing, cohorting, handwashing, mask policies, and ventilation and other risk mitigation strategies. This needs to be balanced with the need for kids to socialize, any mental health issues specific to your child, and whether anyone in your family exposed to your child would be considered high risk (e.g. obese, elderly, or diabetic people, or people with hypertension or chronic lung diseases, among others).
3. How May I Protect Myself, my Family, and my Community from the Virus?
There is evidence that the following measures work: 1) practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet apart from others) and avoid “congregate” settings (places in which many people group together), if possible, 2) frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use approved hand sanitizer, and 3) wear a non-medical mask when indoors in public spaces or in any situation in which you may not be able to socially distance. Please continue to reach out by telephone, text, and video to family, friends, and others who may need support and encouragement.