Family First Health Centre

Updates to Clinical Services and Answers to Your Questions

NOTICE – Do not come to the clinic without a scheduled in-person appointment

Register for Health Myself if you need to send us anything or to have things emailed to you.

Contact a staff member by phone to get set up for Health Myself (secure email, online appointment booking)



I think I should be tested for Coronavirus / COVID-19 infection – what should I do?

  • You can take a self assessment to determine if you should be tested for COVID-19.
  • You can call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.
  • You can use the information below to determine if you should be tested.
  • You can schedule a telephone or video assessment with your doctor to determine if you need to be tested by calling the clinic or using Health Myself.


As there is now community-spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa, it must be considered as a potential diagnosis for all patients presenting with symptoms of acute respiratory infection, regardless of their travel or contact history.

COVID-19 can cause illness ranging from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection.  Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle ache, headache, and difficulty breathing (shortness of breath).

Complications of COVID-19 include pneumonia, kidney failure, and in severe cases, death.

Information around incubation period and period of communicability is still emerging.

Some people such as the elderly and those who are immunocompromised may not develop a fever. For these individuals, the presence of new/worse cough or difficulty breathing may be enough to trigger further precautions.


If you meet the criteria for testing you should present yourself to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.  You do not need to call ahead or be referred by anyone (Telehealth, Ottawa Public Health or your doctor).

Brewer Park Arena
151 Brewer Way
Accessed from Bronson Avenue opposite Carleton University
Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily


As of May 24, 2020, based on updated Ministry of Health guidance, testing is available for the following populations: 

Symptomatic testing: 

  • All people with at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptoms. 

Asymptomatic, risk-based testing: 

  • People who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19.  This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case.
  • People who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees, food processing plants).

Any individual in Ottawa with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 or without symptoms, but who feels they have been exposed to COVID-19 may be tested.  Recommendations for testing of the general public may continue to change. However, the groups below should still be prioritized for testing, should demand for testing exceed assessment and/or lab capacity. 

Please see Ministry of Health COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update for details including testing specific high-risk groups.


If you are having difficulty breathing and getting enough air or experiencing other severe symptoms, either go to the Emergency Department or call 911 immediately. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history and/or follow any signage for people with suspected COVID-19 infection when you get there.

I have symptoms that could be Coronavirus/COVID-19 (or flu or pneumonia or bronchitis or a cold)– but I haven’t travelled or had contact with a documented case – what should I do?

If you have MILD symptoms, where you are NOT short of breath and can manage symptoms reasonably at home:

  • Do NOT call Ottawa Public Health or go to the COVID-19 Assessment Clinic.
  • SELF-ISOLATE until 24 hours AFTER symptoms have FULLY resolved.
  • You can call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 for advice on managing your symptoms.
  • You may also schedule a Telephone or Video Visit with your doctor or a nurse practitioner by calling the clinic or using Health Myself. You will NOT be offered an appointment in the clinic if you have respiratory symptoms as WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep our staff, health care providers and other vulnerable patients in the clinic safe.

NOTE: Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.

For employees, if your employer requires a sick note please send them this letter from Ottawa Public Health.


If you have SEVERE symptoms – call 911:

  • Severe difficulty breathing (for example – struggling with each breath, speaking in single words)
  • Severe chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Have lost consciousness

Take a self-assessment here  – it will help you figure out what to do and when you need to have an assessment with your doctor (by phone or video visit)

If you have any of the following symptoms – it is possible that you have COVID-19 infection and must assume that this is the case to prevent spreading it to others:

  • Fever
  • New Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Muscle Aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Symptoms in young children can also be nonspecific – lethargy, poor feeding




You must self-isolate, which means:

  • only leave your home or see other people for critical reasons (like a medical emergency)
  • seek services over the phone or online or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours
  • do not go into a hospital or clinic to get a COVID-19 test unless you are asked to by a health care provider
  • You should be isolated from family members in the same household that are not sick as well. See this guide for caregivers and family members.

Learn more about how to safely self-isolate to protect yourself and others in your community.


You must also:

  • tell people you had close contact with to self-isolate if you interacted up to 2 days before your symptoms began. Your close contacts also need to monitor their health  for 14 days.
  • monitor your health for a full 14 days after your symptoms started.


 2 weeks after your symptoms started, practise physical distancing:

  • stay home as much as possible
  • go out for groceries and other essential errands once a week
  • keep a distance of 6 feet (2 metres) away from other people when out in public

Learn more about physical (social) distancing here.


Coming to the Clinic

  • Most people will have their health managed virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • All doctors and allied health providers are offering telephone appointments. Some are offering video visits.
  • Your doctor will determine if an in-clinic visit is required.
  • You should NEVER come to the clinic if you have respiratory symptoms as WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep our staff, health care providers, and other vulnerable patients in the clinic safe.
  • Please limit visits to the clinic for non-essential reasons (i.e. don’t walk in to schedule an appointment).
    • Do not come into the clinic to schedule an appointment – do this by phone or on Health Myself.
    • Do not come into the clinic to request refills of medications – your pharmacy can request these, or you can call us to request them, or you can send a message in Health Myself – but remember to have the name and dose of every medication and the fax number of the pharmacy you wish us to send a refill to.
    • Do not come into the clinic to ask questions – use the phone or Health Myself.
    • Do not come into the clinic to drop off forms – send them to us electronically using Health Myself.
  • If you do have an in-clinic appointment you will be screened for COVID-19 or respiratory symptoms and you may be sent home for a phone appointment if you have respiratory symptoms. This is necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy.
  • If you do have an in-clinic appointment – please note that the only doors to the Superstore that are open is the set at the east side (furthest from the clinic). The store is also limiting the number of people that are allowed in the store and the first hour (7 am to 8 am) is only for seniors and vulnerable populations.

What kinds of routine care visits MUST have an in-person appointment?

  • Prenatal visits In office assessments at 10-13 weeks, 20 weeks, 26-28 weeks. Virtual/phone assessments at 16 weeks or for any other concerns. Transfer of care to OB by 30 weeks. Pregnancy confirmation visit – Virtual/Phone.
  • Well baby care Newborns, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months. There are important immunizations that we still want to make sure you get! (Visits at 1 month, 9 months will be done either by virtual visit or telephone. 2 years, 3 years – can be delayed/skipped, or you could have a telephone visit to answer questions and check in on development).
  • Well child care
    • 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 5 years – can be delayed or skipped. Schedule a virtual/phone assessment if you have specific concerns.
    • 5 1/2-6 year old – Consider delaying, or you can schedule an in office visit as there are immunizations. These are all booster shots, so you can safely delay if you choose to.
    • 6-14 years – can be delayed/skipped. Schedule a virtual/phone assessment if you have specific concerns.
  • Well adolescent care 14-16 year old immunizations. These immunizations can wait until close to the 16 year mark or even be delayed, so if your child is 15 ½ or older – book a visit in clinic. If your child is under 15 ½ – you should wait until the threat of COVID-19 has passed. If your child hasn’t had HPV/Human Papilloma Virus vaccine at school you may want to have this visit earlier so that you can have them immunized for HPV (it is ideal if this immunization is given prior to the onset of any type of sexual contact). Schedule a virtual/phone assessment if you have specific concerns.
  • Healthcare workers  vaccinations for health care providers and those workin in health care settings, sich as hepatitis B and MMR, should not be delayed as these groups are at increased risk of exposure to vaccing-preventable diseases and transmitting them to others.
  • Cancer follow-up visits – depends on the kind of cancer and how long since your diagnosis – your doctor can advise you.
  • Follow-up Pap tests – if you were asked to have a follow up pap test in 6 months, make sure to keep this appointment. Routine screening pap tests (no prior abnormal test) can wait.
  • Post-hospital discharge visits – this depends on the reason for the hospital stay. Your doctor can advise you if you need to come into the clinic.
  • New musculoskeletal pain – you may need an in person visit. You will first be assessed by a telephone or video visit and your provider will advise you if you need to come into the office for an in person visit.

What kinds of routine visits can be delayed?

  • Complete physical/annual physical (especially as these are not meant to be assessing new problems or issues, they are supposed to be purely preventative).
  • Screening Pap test (3 year).
  • All FIT testing has been put on hold by the laboratory that provides it. FIT kits will NOT be mailed out by the laboratory until further notice.

Evening appointments

  • Due to staffing shortages we have had to modify the clinic opening hours effective Thursday, March 19, 2020.
  • Our clinic will be open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. Appointments will continue to be available from 4 am to 8 pm via telephone or virtual visits only.
  • Please check our website frequently as our operating hours may change with little advance notice.

Weekend Walk-In Clinic

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic we are unable to continue operating our weekend walk in clinic on its regular schedule. We will continue to open for 3 hours on Saturdays (9 am until noon) as is required of us by the Ministry of Health. Virtual care visits are available by phoning the office.  Do not walk into the clinic.  If you have an urgent care need that cannot wait for a virtual appointment with your regular doctor you can access virtual health care services at Please note that all doctors have availability during their regular working hours to provide you with the virtual care you need during the pandemic.

Telephone Health Visits and Virtual Video Visits

  • Social Distancing has been recommended to help limit the spread of Coronavirus infections worldwide.
  • The clinic is a very busy place with nearly 25,000 patients calling us their family doctor.
  • The clinic provides services to many vulnerable patient populations that we need to keep safe.
  • Every person who enters the clinic potentially carries the COVID-19 virus (now that we know there is community spread) even if you have no symptoms. So every surface you touch, every person you are within 2 m of during a visit can potentially be infected. To effectively protect our vulnerable patients, our staff and our health care providers we must limit in office visits to those that are absolutely necessary.
  • We do not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect our health care providers in the event you have any type of respiratory symptom.
  • In order to continue providing all the necessary health care to our patients we have transitioned (as recommended) to providing primarily virtual care – either by telephone (ALL Providers) or video visit (some providers).
  • In some cases you will have a Virtual Visit and then be asked to come to the clinic for an in person visit at the discretion of your provider (and assuming that you DO NOT HAVE ANY RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS).
  • Some visits will be cancelled as we try to increase capacity to provide care to those who are sick and unburden the Emergency Departments. Some visits are “elective” and can wait until the threat of COVID-19 has passed so that we can enforce social distancing and avoid taking the risk of making well people sick.
  • Please read the following information/disclosure regarding virtual visits:

COVID-19 is placing stress on Canada’s public health system. Our clinic is starting to offer virtual care to make sure that we can continue to care for our patients safely and effectively. This means that we will be using video and audio technologies for some patient visits rather than asking all patients to come into our office. Some of these technologies are provided by the Province. Others have been provided by vendors like Google, or Apple to help make discussions with your care provider as easy as possible during these difficult times. Some health concerns can be addressed with virtual care alone, but in some cases your doctor may ask you to visit a hospital or other health care facility if necessary, for a physical examination.

We do our best to make sure that any information you give to us during virtual care visits is private and secure, but no video or audio tools are ever completely secure. There is an increased security risk that your health information may be intercepted or disclosed to third parties when using video or audio communications tools. To help us keep your information safe and secure, you can:

Understand that emails, calls, or texts you receive are not secure in the same way as a private appointment in an exam room. Use a private computer/device (i.e., not an employer’s or third party’s computer/device), secure accounts, and a secure internet connection. For example, using a personal and encrypted email account is more secure than an unencrypted email account, and your access to the Internet on your home network will generally be more secure than an open guest Wi-Fi connection.

You should also understand that electronic communication is not a substitute for in-person communication or clinical examinations, where appropriate, or for attending the Emergency Department when needed (including for any urgent care that may be required).

If you are concerned about using video or audio tools for virtual care, you can ask our office to arrange for you to visit a different healthcare provider or other health care center where you can be seen in person. However, please note that visiting a health care provider in person comes with a higher risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 and the possibility of spreading the virus.

By providing your information, you agree to let us collect, use, or disclose your personal health information through video or audio communications (while following applicable privacy laws) in order to provide you with care. In particular, the following means of electronic communication may be used: email (via Health Myself portal only), videoconferencing (including Ontario Telemedicine Network, Skype, Facetime, etc.)

Clinic Access

  • Due to staffing shortages we have had to modify the clinic opening hours effective Thursday, March 19, 2020.
  • Our clinic will be open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday if you need to attend in person.
  • There will be no staff in the clinic from 4 pm to 8 pm Monday through Thursday.
  • There will be no regular access to the clinic during the hours of Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 2 pm except when the doctor has asked you to come in. The doors will not be opened if we are not expecting you.  For more information refer to the Weekend Walk-In Clinic section (above).
  • If you do have an in clinic appointment – please note that the only door to the Superstore that are open is the set at the east side (furthest from the clinic). The store is also limiting the number of people that are allowed in the store and the first hour (7-8 am) is only for seniors and vulnerable populations.

Prescription Renewals

  • Our standard clinic policy of allowing up to 2 weeks for prescription renewals remains in effect.
  • Please remember that pharmacists are allowed to renew/extend your prescriptions unless it is a controlled substance. There has been some discussion of allowing pharmacist to renew controlled substances during the Pandemic – but this is not in effect yet as far as we know.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic we still need to make sure that we are prescribing safely and effectively for you. Sometimes we will be able to extend your prescription without a phone/virtual visit, but we may also need to arrange for phone/virtual visits to make sure we are providing the best care possible during this difficult time.

Forms and Letters

  • There may be delays in completing forms as we mobilize our resources to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Please consider how urgent your forms and paperwork are before asking us to take time away from caring for patients to complete them. Consider checking with the 3rd party (work, insurance etc) if the forms are absolutely essential and if they can be delayed.
  • Please note that sick notes to excuse you from work due to self-isolation for respiratory symptoms or suspected COVID-19 infection should not be required on the advice of government. If your employer asks for one – please use this note that has been created by Ottawa Public Health for such purposes.
  • As far as we understand – medical notes are not required for Employment Insurance (EI) purposes for claims related to COVID-19 infection as well.

Statement Regarding Physical (Social) Distancing

Family First Health Centre and Family First Health Team fully support the concept of physical (social) distancing to reduce the impact of Coronavirus on our country and our health system. We are implementing it as best we can in our workplace while still aiming to provide you necessary medical services. Please take social distancing seriously and observe it every day in your day to day life. This will save lives – it could save yours or that of someone you love. Everyone is vulnerable to this virus and we are all in this together.

Workers Concerned about their Health Risk of Attending Work

  • Workers who have risk factors for more severe COVID-19 infections who are concerned about their safety in the workplace should reach out to their doctor for advice.
  • We support the premise that all people should work from home whenever the type of work they do permits it.
  • We support the premise that physical (social) distancing should be implemented in workplaces where workers are required to attend the workplace.
  • If you feel that you are at risk in your workplace because your employer is not providing a safe work environment (i.e. changing the things that they can change to reduce your risk) you should contact Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development – Health and Safety.
  • If your workplace is as safe as it can be and you are required to attend the workplace – but you still feel you are at higher risk reach out to your doctor for guidance.
  • At this time there are no clear cut guidelines or guidance on removing at risk workers from the workplace, it isn’t clear if these worker’s jobs would be protected and it isn’t clear if they would qualify for sick leave, disability or Employment Insurance (EI) for their absence.

COVID-19 Health Resources




Nutrition Myths and Factors on COVID-19

Eating Together Safely During COVID-19

Keeping Food Safe to Eat During COVID-19

Pantry Items to Keep on Hand

Safe Grocery Shopping

Healthy Recipes During a Pandemic

Ottawa Public Health: Grocery Shopping, Meal Planning, and Cooking During COVID-19

Nutrition and Hydration Tips on your Road to Recovery from COVID-19 at Home


Please share these resources with anyone who you think might benefit from this information.  We are all in this together.  We will continue to develop and share content that helps to keep you and your family safe and prepared during this public health emergency.

Wellness / Mental Health

Mental Health Crisis Services

Minding Your Mental Health

Helping Children Be Resilient

10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Worry Related to COVID-19

External Resources


Please share these resources with anyone who you think might benefit from this information.  We are all in this together.  We will continue to develop and share content that helps to keep you and your family safe and prepared during this public health emergency.

Seniors Wellness

Seniors’ Centre Without Walls

Champlain Community Support Network COVID-19 Support Services


Please share these resources with anyone who you think might benefit from this information.  We are all in this together.  We will continue to develop and share content that helps to keep you and your family safe and prepared during this public health emergency.


Diabetes Canada: How Should I Prepare?

Diabetes Canada: Blood Pressure Medication

Diabetes Canada: Collaboration to Prevent Diabetes Supply Disruption

Diabetes Canada: FAQ About COVID-19 and Diabetes


Please share these resources with anyone who you think might benefit from this information.  We are all in this together.  We will continue to develop and share content that helps to keep you and your family safe and prepared during this public health emergency.