GMF du Pontiac gets creative to protect patients from Covid-19


Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC & PONTIAC – The Groupe de médecine familiale (GMF) du Pontiac has become crafty to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of
Covid-19 for people who have appointments with their family doctors. “We want to be increasingly available for our patients during this time and keep them out of emergency rooms,” said Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt, president of the GMF du Pontiac, which includes 22 doctors in 10 different sites across the region.
In the coming days, the GMF du Pontiac doctors, who follow about 18,000 patients in the Pontiac region, will be transitioning to telephone consultations with patients where possible.
“It will be a mutual decision-making process where we will look at the appointments for the next day with our secretaries and decide who is eligible
for a phone consultation rather than an in-office appointment. Patients will be
offered the most appropriate option when the secretary phones them to confirm
their appointment,” explained Vander Stelt, noting telephone consults may be extended to follow-ups with GMF nurses for things like diabetes.
Waiting rooms have also been reorganized with seating spaced farther apart and disinfectant products at the door. Patients will be able to call or text their doctor’s office when they arrive and opt to wait in their cars.
They will be called or texted when the doctor is ready to see them.
For patients over 70 and those with compromised immune systems, the GMF du Pontiac is looking into offering in-home appointments.
“We are going to do what we can to keep everyone healthy and safe. We want our patients to know we have their backs,” Vander Stelt told the Journal, noting they are working on integrating a video aspect into the phone consultations. “It’s so much nicer to be able to see the patient and their facial expressions,” she added.
Even when the Covid-19 crisis is over, the GMF du Pontiac may continue
offering phone consultations to reduce wait times and patient travelling.