COVID-19 clinic to ramp up daily check-ins after father dies at home

The sudden death of a 47-year-old father while in isolation at his Richmond home has prompted the COVID-19 clinic — run by doctors from Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and New Westminster — to change its protocols.

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A COVID-19 testing clinic run by Tri-City and New Westminster doctors has adjusted the way it follows up with patients following the death of a 47-year-old father in Richmond earlier this week. 

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Warlito Valdez, 47, was self-isolating on the top floor of his home when his wife found him on Sunday morning, The Vancouver Sun reported. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate him.

The case has prompted the Royal Columbian Assessment Clinic to overhaul its processes around COVID-19 patients well enough to self-isolate at home. Now, those patients will receive daily virtual visits with one of the clinics doctors to make sure they aren’t waiting too long to seek out care, according to Kristan Ash, the executive director of the Fraser Northwest Divisions of Family Doctors Practice Society (FNWD).

In some of the most serious cases, the clinic is also looking to set up COVID-19 patients with home oximeters, a digital device worn by vulnerable patients that beams oxygen and heart rate levels directly to an offsite healthcare worker.

The measures are part of a wider virtual health network the FNWD has rolled out in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Since March 16, the clinic’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool, together with its virtual clinic and walk-in facility opposite Royal Columbian Hospital, have served over 10,000 people.

The self-assessment tool is first point of contact for many patients, and acts as a digital triaging system to route patients towards virtual checkups with family physicians, and if necessary, a face-to-face with a doctor at the clinic, where staff have the appropriate personal protective equipment and safety protocols in place.

In addition to the daily virtual checkups, emergency departments and in-patient units at Eagle Ridge and Royal Columbian Hospitals have begun referring discharged patients who need to be monitored at home to both the clinic’s doctors and community health nurses from Fraser Health, according to the clinic’s leading physician Dr. Ali Okhowat. 

Read more of our COVID-19 coverage here.

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