On October 28, 2020, the Alberta Indigenous Virtual Care Clinic (AIVCC) opened its virtual doors, providing same-day visits with family doctors for rural and urban First Nations, Métis and Inuit patients and their families. Working in partnership with local primary care providers, the AIVCC complements existing services for Indigenous peoples and ensures continuity of care.
“Visits” to the AIVCC are arranged by medical office assistants, who help set appointments up for patients to see a family physician either through WiFi or video conferencing tools, or even just by phone, depending on what technology the patients have access to.
“With this virtual clinic,” says Amy Gausvik, Physician Lead with AIVCC, “we’re working to remove systemic barriers for Indigenous persons by increasing access to culturally safe primary care in rural areas as well as in under-served urban areas,” she continues. “By connecting patients with local resources, we hope this clinic will bridge care gaps.”
As Dr. Gausvik stresses, COVID-19 has contributed greatly to further challenges to accessing care for Indigenous patients and communities. “These barriers are especially overwhelming in communities with limited or no access to primary care and where transportation is scarce, and made even more difficult during the pandemic,” she adds.