Northern Health COVID-19 information line hours to be reduced

The hours for Northern Health's COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line are about to be reduced.

Starting Thursday, the line will be open from noon to 8 p.m. during the work week and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays.

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The line has been open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the work week and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends with doctors and nurse practitioners available for only a portion of that time.

Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins said the move was made to better match the hours to call volume, which has dropped somewhat, and to align them with the hours primary care offices are open.

"Primary care offices are usually open during the day and they usually have same-day appointments available for urgent appointments but keeping that after-hours portion open for people who have trouble accessing care during normal nine to five hours," Collins said.

"But the plan is to remain as fluid as possible with the hours and if we see the demand increase again, we will increase the hours of operation to meet the need and that can be done pretty much immediately."

The service, which can be reached by calling 1-844-645-7811, was launched in March to provide Northern B.C. residents advice on COVID-19 and a check to see if they have the symptoms.

By mid-May, the service had fielded over 12,000 calls, Northern Health said.

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