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VCH helps residents access the care they need during annual Winter Care campaign
VANCOUVER, B.C. – As part of its annual Winter Care campaign, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is asking residents to think ahead this holiday and winter season to help prevent injuries and ensure residents know the right place to access services when they require health care.
"Each and every year, our Winter Care advice never wavers – get the health care you need, without delay," said Dr. Michael Schwandt, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health. "Even though winter can be a busy time of year, we want residents to be mindful of their health-care needs. Our hospitals, urgent primary care centres and community health centres are available to serve residents throughout the holiday and winter seasons."
Residents requiring health care need to know:
- For non-urgent health concerns, visit your doctor or nurse practitioner if you are attached to one.
- If you are unattached, you can visit a local walk-in clinic, where virtual appointments may be available.
- For same-day care for a non-life threatening health concern, visit an Urgent and Primary Care Centre, which are open daytimes, evenings and weekends, 365 days a year.
- For trusted health advice, contact HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1, available 24/7, or go to healthlinkbc.ca.
- The First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day and First Nations Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry are telehealth services available to First Nations, Inuite and Métis families, irrespective of where they reside in BC, available seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- For critical or life threatening conditions, do not wait. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.
The Winter Care campaign emphasizes accident and injury prevention, to best ensure the health of residents and reduce the number hospital and healthcare facility visits. This year, Winter Care is emphasizing the safety of seniors 65 years of age and over to prevent slips and falls, which can lead to serious issues such as concussions and fractures.
Last year's frigid weather led to more slips, falls and hospital admissions during the holiday season*
VCH data shows that seniors' slips and falls on ice and snow led to a significant increase in hospital admissions in the colder holiday periods of 2016/17 (19 admissions) and 2021/22 (18) compared to the milder holiday periods in intervening years (between one to four admissions annually).
"The numbers show us that cold, icy conditions lead to an increase in seniors' injuries. We are encouraging our seniors to take important steps to maintain their health this winter, including reducing trip and slip hazards in the home, planning ahead to avoid rushing, and using shoes and boots that fit well and have non-slip soles," said Dr. Kendall Ho, VCH emergency medical specialist. "The rest of us can help by checking in with our elderly family, friends and neighbours, and shovelling our walks and driveways."
However, it's not just seniors who are at risk. Slips and falls on snow and ice leading to hospital admissions in the VCH region also increased for people under 65 in the 2016/17 (14 admissions) and 2021/22 (16) holiday periods compared to a total of 12 admissions in the four intervening holiday periods.
"The data is clear – be careful in cold and snowy weather because it puts all of us who live, work and play in the VCH region at higher risk of injury," added Dr. Ho. "We encourage storefront owners and their staff to maintain public spaces, including sidewalks and parking lots, as safe pathways for everyone's mobility."
Other health-care resources available to support residents include:
- For urgent medication refills and renewals, speak with your pharmacist. They have the ability to renew many medications.
- For mental health concerns, please visit vch.ca/mentalhealth.
- For COVID-19 vaccination information, visit gov.bc.ca/covid or call 1-888-COVID19.
- For flu shots, visit ImmunizeBC.ca/influenza for more information.
*The 'holiday period' analyzed includes the period from December 23 to January 2
About the Winter Care campaign
VCH has developed the annual Winter Care campaign in partnership with Providence Healthcare, LifeLabs, the Divisions of Family Practice, Doctors of B.C. and the B.C. Pharmacy Association. This four-month multimedia campaign includes posters, ads, and websites in up to 11 languages, to ensure every resident and visitor has access to information on where to go for the right care, how to prevent flu and COVID-19, and tips to stay safe and healthy this winter at home, at play, on the roads and in the community.