Ottawa

New clinic for respiratory illnesses to open Monday

In an effort to divert mild to moderate COVID-19 patients away from family doctors and emergency rooms, a new clinic is opening to diagnose and treat people with respiratory illnesses in Ottawa.

Bells Corners site to provide COVID-19 testing, chest X-rays, treatment

D. Aubrey Moodie Intermediate School in Ottawa's Bells Corners will be the site of a new care clinic for respiratory illnesses starting on April 6. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

In an effort to divert mild to moderate COVID-19 patients away from family doctors and emergency rooms, a new clinic is opening to diagnose and treat people with respiratory illnesses in Ottawa.

The new clinic, led by Queensway Carleton Hospital, opens on Monday at the former D. Aubrey Moodie Intermediate School in Bells Corners.

"It really is for anybody with a fever and a cough, cold-like symptoms, that isn't so sick that they need to be in the emergency department," said Andrew Willmore, lead for the clinical care coordination committee and medical director for emergency management at The Ottawa Hospital, during a teleconference Thursday.

While the pop-up clinic is a response to the growing number of people sick with COVID-19, patients do not have to have the coronavirus to get care there.

The D. Aubrey Moodie clinic will see anyone with respiratory illnesses in an effort to divert people with coughs or fevers away from walk-in clinics and emergency room departments. 

Shield family doctors, ERs

Until now family doctors have been treating COVID-19 patients, but Willmore said many primary care offices simply aren't set up for the demanding infection control protocols required, otherwise known as "droplet precautions."

"They have had challenges in being able to maintain the operations of their clinics due to the volume of patients presenting to them for care requiring droplet precautions," he said. "It's just a bit overwhelming if you're a small family doctor's office."

As COVID-19 spreads, emergency rooms will need to focus on severe or acute cases, and may not have the capacity to deal with less-serious symptoms of the virus. 

"We need to shield our emergency departments," Willmore said. 

Medical staff participate in a training session as they prepare for the opening of the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The new west-end clinic is set up to treat about 200 patients per day. A similar clinic led by the Montfort Hospital is ready to go in the east end when it's needed.

Along with testing capabilities, the clinics have X-ray machines, heart monitoring capabilities and protocols to keep all patients safe, whether or not they have COVID-19.

Anyone with symptoms such as a fever or cough they can't manage at home can go to the new Moodie clinic for care starting Monday. Opening hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

People with severe symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath should still go to the emergency room.

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a reporter in Winnipeg and as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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