Reprinted from the "Rural, Remote and Northern Communities" issue of Visions Journal, 2020, 16 (1), pp. 28
I’m pleased to be one of the First Nations doctors participating in the First Nations Health Authority’s First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program, which serves First Nations people in BC who don’t have a doctor or who may have limited access to their health care provider.
What it is: The program is open to First Nations people and their family members in BC, even if they are non-status. I am one of many doctors in the program who have Indigenous ancestry. All doctors in the program have lived experience or training in the practice of cultural safety and humility. This helps us to understand some of the environments and situations of the people calling in.
Why it was created: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the urgent need for alternative ways to deliver health care to First Nations people in BC, some of whom live in rural and remote communities where access to health care can be challenging even under normal circumstances. During the pandemic, many community health centres and clinics where people would usually access their primary care services were temporarily closed. The First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program continues to be an option for people to access the care that they need, even as community health centres and clinics reopen.
How it works: Any First Nations person or family member in BC can call 1-855-344-3800 to book a doctor’s appointment. Appointments can be over the phone or through a computer, smartphone or tablet. Doctors with the program can offer counselling, review signs and symptoms or concerns, write prescriptions or order lab work or imaging if required—all within the context of a virtual environment. Appointments are not rushed, particularly if a medical need is complex.
Coming soon: The FNHA is developing a Virtual Addictions Medicine and Psychiatry service that will complement the Virtual Doctor of the Day program.
About the author
Kelsey Louie works with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Medical Officer