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Healthcare hampered by COVID

Western Health cites a number of factors impacting patient wait times at LeGrow Centre

Stock photo of patients in a waiting room. Patients visiting the Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre in Port aux Basques have been experiencing increased wait times for routine medical services.

By Ryan King

Community News Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES – Medical facilities continue to struggle to meet the needs of their communities as cases of COVID-19 rise across the country. This is certainly true for the staff at the Dr. Charles L. Grow Health Centre, which services the Southwest Coast.

Wait times have increased throughout the province, and regular screening clinics for routine tests like bloodwork have been postponed and even occasionally cancelled outright.

“We remain fortunate to have the health care team that we have here on the Southwest Coast. Everyone is trying their best to meet the needs of our residents during this trying time,” said Tara Pye, Regional Director of Communications for Western Health.

There are a number of factors causing an increased wait time for some medical services.

“As there has been an increase in individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, it takes longer to see each patient who potentially has COVID-19. This is due to the time it takes for proper isolation, cleaning and for staff and physicians to wear and remove their personal protective equipment (PPE). The Emergency Room remains open. Chemotherapy and dialysis continue as per normal. Some clinics are seeing patients virtually and in-person as needed.”

Some medical offices have also been closed for a shorter period of time over the holidays to help meet the needs of the community. However in the new year clinics have faced increased challenges under Alert Level 4.

“Isolation and testing requirements have had a slight impact in ability to have regular clinics in January. Some physicians are providing COVID vaccination to increase access to the booster doses. This may impact individuals’ ability to see their doctor. Patients requiring primary care appointments should contact their own family physician or nurse practitioner offices in the usual manner.”

Patients who require a COVID test should not be visiting the Emergency Room.

“Individuals with even one COVID-19 symptom should call 811 or go online to do the self-assessment and book an appointment for testing via Public Health if appropriate. They should not come to the ER for testing alone. Patients with appointments or ER visits to LeGrow Health Centre should identify to the screener if they have symptoms.”

This policy changes if the person is ill and needs medical attention.

“Patients with COVID-19 symptoms who are ill and feel they need to be seen by a health care provider should go to the ER. Negative COVID-19 tests are not required to access medical services. While we strongly encourage that patients be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccination status is not considered when trying to access medical services as it is an essential service.”

Additional vaccination appointments were made available last week for the rest of January. The schedule is posted online at:

Each clinic offers appointments for Pediatrics (aged 5-11) for the first or second dose; Seniors (60+) for the first or second dose or booster; and the COVID-19 vaccine for the first or second doses for aged 12+ or booster for aged 18+.

Port aux Basques will have a clinic at the Port aux Basques Lions Club from Jan. 10 to Jan. 28, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can be booked online at:

“Please select the applicable appointment type when booking your appointment. Those unable to book online can schedule an appointment by calling 1-833-703-5470 toll free,” said Pye. “If you are not able to find an appointment in your location, please continue to check the website as additional appointments will be added to these clinics throughout the month. Many local physicians and pharmacists also offer COVID vaccinations.”

Residents should also come to their appointment prepared.

“Western Health reminds the public to arrive for their appointment no earlier than ten minutes in advance, to bring their MCP card and to wear a short-sleeved shirt. Further instructions will be provided on site.”

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