Staff and patients at the C.W. Wiebe Medical Centre in Winkler are adjusting to some changes implemented in light of the novel coronavirus.

Clinic Administrator Jim Neufeld says the goal of the changes is to make sure staff and any patients that need to come to the clinic are kept as safe as possible.

One very significant change that's been made is all patients that come to urgent care on a walk-in basis will now be asked to first schedule their urgent care appointments. Neufeld says this new process is intended to reduce the number of people waiting in one room together at the same time. "Patients can actually book appointments online, they can do it for that day or the following day, they can phone and make appointments."

Neufeld says all people that come into the clinic will also be screened prior to coming in. "They will be asked questions about whether they are experiencing flu-like symptoms and the questions regarding travel or contact with somebody that's been diagnosed with COVID-19."

If the screening process indicates an individual meets the criteria for testing for COVID-19, Neufeld says appropriate arrangements would be made. He says some of those appropriate arrangements may mean coming into the clinic. "And then we would know to handle them in a certain way, keeping them isolated...or sometimes it might mean redirecting them to another resource which may include sending them to the drive-up testing site that's been established in Winkler."

Neufeld says before the opening of the drive-up testing site on Park Street, they were testing for COVID-19 in patients that met the criteria. He says have the mobile site is a definite benefit for the community and the area and has improved that process significantly.

Related story: Winkler Community Testing Site To Open As COVID Cases Rise To 21 

Since the emergence of COVID-19, more appointments to see a physician have also been done via telephone and some by video conferencing. Neufeld says there are still visits that need to be done face-to-face, like prenatal appointments, well-child checks, and some others.

"If someone is looking for a new appointment today, it will likely be arranged as a virtual visit, so a phone call with your health care provider and then after that, if the care provider believes that for the best course of action is to actually see that patient, arrangements will be made on doing that at that point."

"These are challenging times, and we all are wanting to do the best we can do keep everyone as safe as possible...accessing care will likely look a little bit different today, than it has in the past, but it's still available, and we still want to make sure we see everyone that needs some help."

Neufeld says patients looking for up to date and accurate COVID-19 information should go to these websites.