Cough and Fever clinics closing March 31 as family physician offices, walk-in clinics take over care

Health PEI Cough and Fever Clinics in Charlottetown and Slemon Park will end on March 31 as routine care for Islanders with respiratory illness is transitioned back to family physician offices and walk-in clinics.

“Cough and Fever Clinics were established in 2020 to provide a place for people with COVID symptoms to be seen and assessed by a physician,” said Dr. Laura O’Connor, COVID Response Physician Lead, Community and Seniors. “At that time, vaccines were not available and personal protective equipment was not as readily available, making it difficult for physician’s offices to see these patients in person. Now, we have the equipment and procedures to care for patients in their usual place of care.”

Family physicians and walk-in clinic physicians have been provided access to resources and informed about this change. They are prepared to see patients, both virtually and in-person, as needed.

When to seek care

For people who have COVID or COVID symptoms, it’s important to know when to seek care.
Most cases of COVID-19 are mild, and its symptoms can be safely treated at home without visiting a family doctor’s office. COVID-19 is a virus. Like many viruses, you need to let it run its course.

However, if symptoms do start to get worse, people’s first point of contact should be their family doctor or nurse practitioner. At their discretion, they will either arrange a telephone appointment or see you in person.

If you are immunosuppressed or over the age of 50, consider phoning your doctor or 811 within the first 5 days of your COVID-19 symptoms to see if you may benefit from an antiviral medicine.

There are many things your family doctor can do to help if you have COVID-19, including sending a prescription to your pharmacy to help control your symptoms, or even just offer reassurance and answer your questions.

Those who do not have a family physician may call 811 telehealth services for advice or visit a walk-in clinic. 811 nurses have been trained to ask for “red flag” symptoms over the phone, which may prompt them to refer you to your local emergency room or a walk-in clinic, whichever is more appropriate.

If your 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. If you do not feel you can travel to the hospital safely on your own, call 911.

Staff at the hospital will make sure you are safely taken in and given the care you need. Please ensure you are wearing a properly fitted mask. Notify staff immediately upon arrival of your COVID-19 diagnosis.

“Seeking the right care for COVID when you need it is an important part of having a safe recovery from the virus,” said Dr. O’Connor. “We’re pleased that this transition back to caring for respiratory illness in physician offices will offer more access to care for Islanders who need it, while avoiding unnecessary trips to the emergency department for people with mild illness.