January 12, 2021

Primary care providers, including family physicians, have played a critical role in preventing and reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in BC communities. We thank you for your continued care of British Columbians during the pandemic and support of the 2020-21 influenza immunization campaign. Your promotion of immunization services to residents in your communities are greatly appreciated. With your help, more British Columbians have been immunized against influenza at this point in the 2020-21 season than the same time period in previous years – an important protection against another serious respiratory illness while the pandemic continues here in BC and around the world.

We know that chronic diseases may increase a patient’s likelihood of complications from influenza or COVID-19. To assist primary care providers, including family doctors and nurse practitioners, in supporting these higher risk patients, the Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control have published a new resource, the BC Care Bundle for Supporting High-Risk Patients During COVID-19 Pandemic and Influenza Season. This infographic provides recommendations for all care providers who are managing and providing comprehensive care to high-risk patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and influenza season.

The recommendations were developed with input from family practice leaders and specialists. They include encouraging immunization uptake, creating care plans for intercurrent illness with underlying chronic disease, and optimizing chronic disease management through a review of medications and discussions with patients on their emotional well-being, diet as well as exercise. This guidance also includes a list of resources for more information. 

To recognize the work that family physicians are doing in implementing care consistent with this Care Bundle, the GPSC has approved a one-time payment for doctors providing longitudinal care to high risk patients. Eligible physicians will be able to apply early in 2021. You will receive further details including eligibility criteria and information on the application process in the coming weeks. As well, the GPSC will hold a webinar in late January. We will share more details with you as they become available.

In the meantime, we encourage you to use this tool to help ongoing care of your high-risk patients. To assist you in applying the guidance, quick access to the BC Care Bundle point-of-care algorithm and embedded links have been added to the Pathways online resource. To access the point-of-care algorithm, login and go to the COVID-19 specialty from the dropdown menu or search with the keyword “bundle.”

If you have questions about the BC Care Bundle, please contact hlth.guidelines@gov.bc.ca

We thank you for your continued support and care to British Columbians during this unprecedented time. Many of you have asked for more information about the COVID-19 vaccination program plans and we are committed to keeping you regularly updated about the vaccine roll-out and the role of primary care providers. You will be receiving more information from the ministry and our key health partners including the Doctors of BC and health authorities very soon. In the meantime, visit the BCCDC website for guidance and information on COVID-19 vaccines for health-care providers.

Sincerely,

Ted Patterson                                                                
Co-Chair, General Practice Services Committee
Assistant Deputy Minister                                            
Primary Care Division                                                 
Ministry of Health

Dr. Anthon Meyer
Co-Chair, General Practice Services Committee
Doctors of BC