Accessing Medical Services in Ottawa during COVID-19

Jun 10, 2020 | CV19, Health, Impact Updates, INFO-FLASH News archive


Ontario is starting to reopen in stages. This means that some health care, community, and household services are gradually resuming services. 

This article answers questions you might have about   

  • Seeking immediate medical attention,  
  • Accessing testing or treatment for COVID-19, or  
  • Scheduling upcoming or rescheduling previous medical appointments.

Seeking immediate medical attention

In cases of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. Hospitals are ready to provide the necessary care you need.

Please note that hospitals are

  • Taking every precaution to protect your health while providing emergency care
  • Limiting the number of patients who enter at each entrance
  • Asking patients to follow the instructions on the signs as you enter the hospital
  • Screening you for COVID-19 symptoms, travel history and contact history
  • Providing you with a disposable mask (or asking you to wear your own cloth mask)
  • Restricting family visitors and working with families to arrange visits on a compassionate and equitable basis

Before attending a hospital, check for restrictions and guidelines at these locations:

It is important to pay attention to your health and to get help for medical emergencies.

Accessing COVID-19 Testing and Care Clinics

Ottawa Public Health is recommending older adults who want to be test or  think they have COVID-19-related symptoms to go to an Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care Clinic for testing and treatment.

The COVID-19 Care Clinics are out-of-hospital clinics where people are assessed by a healthcare provider, tested, and treated for respiratory illness, if required. You should go to the COVID-19 Care Clinics if

  • You have symptoms of respiratory illness, including a fever or cough and flu-like symptoms that are getting worse, and
  • Are in need of medical attention.

You can also take a self-assessment or check your test results online.

Scheduling or Rescheduling Medical Appointments

Hospitals, health facilities, clinics, and health care providers in private practices are restarting health care services gradually. This includes:

  • Providing scheduled surgeries and procedures
  • Supporting diagnostics and postacute rehabilitation services for surgeries and procedures
  • In-person mental health counselling and addictions counselling
  • Telephone or online appointments
  • Dental care including in-person care for all deferred, non-essential, and elective services, in addition to emergency and urgent care

What to expect from health care providers before, during and after appointments?

Health care providers will gradually expand clinical services with strict guidelines for Ottawa Public Health for infection prevention and control and physical distancing, including

  • Expanding in-person visits beyond essential services over the next few months
  • Assessing the need for in-person visits over the phone or via video
  • Assessing your risk of COVID-19 before each visit and when you arrive for an in-person appointment
  • Implementing a universal mask policy for all in-person appointments
  • Limiting the number of people coming into the clinic
  • Limiting capacity in waiting rooms and other clinic spaces to allow for physical distancing
  • Cleaning and disinfecting clinical and public spaces
  • Installing physical barriers in some areas
  • Charging fees that were previously suspended, such as fees for missed appointments and for prescription renewal without a (virtual) visit

What you need to do if you have an upcoming appointment

  • Call in advance to find out if your appointment is still taking place 
  • Discuss how it will be conducted – in person, over the phone, or by video 
  • Wear a mask to your in-person visit (if you do not have a mask, find out if reusable masks are available for free or purchase) 
  • Come to your appointment alone if possible. If required, you may go with one caregiver (they may be asked to wait outside) 
  • Answer the pre-visit COVID-19 screening questions (while scheduling the appointment by phone and on arrival at appointment) 
  • Expect to have your temperature taken before and after your appointment 
  • Wash your hands when you arrive and after touching common surfaces or using the washroom
  • Follow signs and direction from staff about room capacity and physical distancing 
  • Limit the time in office by arranging a telephone follow up to schedule your next appointment

Taking Care of your Mental Health

It is completely natural to feel stress and concern during these times. It is also important to practice positive coping strategies.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming yourself, please call 911.

Where to find more information?

Ottawa Public Health is your source for information about COVID-19 including

With each stage of reopening our city, additional services will be provided while strict guidelines from Ottawa Public Health. While older adults are at increased risk for COVID-19, your general health and well-being is important too. With each appointment, you will need to assess your risk of other problems if you delay needed medical care. It is important to stay informed and seek support to make these decisions with your health care provider.

Stay well, stay safe!

Read more COVID-19 Special INFO-FLASH Updates

New Links and Resources

December 29: How the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines compare (CBC video)

December 29: When will you be eligible for a COVID-19 shot? Ontario lays out plan for mass vaccination campaign

December 7 : COVID-19: Updates on the law and benefits

Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has new information about the law and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home care:

Please visit COVID-19: Updates on the law and legal services on Steps to Justice for information on other areas of the law including employment, family, housing, and income assistance law.

September 23 : Ottawa pharmacies to start testing for COVID-19 as of September 25. (CBC)

June 11: The doctor can see you now, download the Canadian Medical Association Virtual Care Guide for Patients

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