COVID-19 cough and fever clinics on P.E.I. to close this week
'We think this is the right time to do this'
Health P.E.I. announced Monday it will close its two cough and fever clinics in Charlottetown and Slemon Park at the end of March.
Routine care for Islanders with respiratory illness will now transition back to family physician offices and walk-in clinics, a written release said.
Health P.E.I.'s Chief Operating Officer Corinne Rowswell says when the clinics were established in 2020 as a place for people with COVID-19 symptoms to be seen and assessed by a doctor, the pandemic looked different than it does now.
"We didn't have good access to personal protective equipment, or PPE, and we didn't really know what we were going to be facing with COVID-19," Rowswell told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
Now that many Islanders are vaccinated and doctor's offices have a very good supply of PPE, those offices are now better equipped to see these patients in person, she said.
"We think this is the right time to do this."
The two clinics see about 100 patients per week, Rowswell said.
Family and walk-in clinic doctors have already been given access to resources and informed about this change, Health P.E.I. said, and are ready to see patients virtually and in-person.
Seek help if needed
Most cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home without visiting a doctor's office, Rowswell said. Like many viruses, patients need to let it run its course.
If people find their symptoms getting worse, they're advised to contact their family doctor or nurse practitioner. Those who are immunosuppressed or over age 50 should consider phoning a doctor or 811 within the first five days of COVID-19 symptoms to see if they may benefit from an antiviral medicine such as Paxlovid.
The government is advising the more than 20,000 people on P.E.I. without a family physician to call 811 for advice or visit a walk-in clinic.
"We haven't seen the numbers increasing going into the cough and fever clinics — they operate half a day a couple of times a week — there's more ways of spreading that access," Rowswell said.
If symptoms are severe enough you don't believe you can wait for an appointment with your doctor, it's time to visit the emergency department of your local hospital, a release from Health P.E.I.said., and if you do not feel you can travel to the hospital safely on your own, call 911.
With files from CBC News: Compass