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Montreal public health officials encourage patients to visit doctors, urge them ‘not to be scared’

Montreal public health officials encourage people to seek medical attention
WATCH: Emergency rooms may be overcrowded but medical clinics are open and ready to see patients. As Global's Felicia Parrillo explains, Montreal's regional director of public health insists it is safe to see your doctor.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Montreal Public Health officials say people were not reaching out to their family doctors. In fact, consultations were down 80 per cent.

But, as the pandemic begins to stabilize, Montreal’s regional director of medicine is encouraging patients to reach out to their doctor, especially if they have a chronic illness or a concern that requires medical attention.

“It’s important to consult when appropriate and to not be scared,” said Dr. François Loubert.

According to the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), since the start of the pandemic, more than 1.5 million Quebecers have had medical consultations over the phone or by video conference.

Read more: Telemedicine appointments gain traction in Quebec during coronavirus crisis

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Dr. Yves Robert, the secretary for Quebec’s College of Physicians, says even though family doctors will now begin to see patients in person, telemedicine is a practice that’s here to stay.

“It doesn’t mean that telemedicine is the only one way of meeting a physician,” said Robert. “It’s one way — one new way to do it. It’s probably more convenient for patients and the physicians, but it won’t replace the physical examinations that are needed in some instances.”

Global News medical expert Dr. Mitch Shulman says reaching out to a doctor if you have a health problem is essential and delaying could cause even more risks.

He says doctors’ offices and clinics are very well-equipped to protect everyone.

Read more: Coronavirus — Montreal-area medical clinics adapting to new reality in the era of COVID-19

“It’s not like it was pre-COVID, where you’d walk into a clinic and wait with hundreds of other people for hours and hours and hours, all breathing the same air, and then get in to see the health-care provider,” Shulman said.

“They’re going to limit the number of people in the waiting room — possibly only one person at a time. They’re gonna leave about 10-15 minutes between appointments to make sure everything is safe.”

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Experts say if you have any questions related to your health, you can always call 811 to be advised on where to seek help.