Online medical service, EQ Virtual, working to bring accessible health care to the Downtown Eastside

EQ Virtual is working to become accessible to members of the Downtown Eastside. Photo by: Jonathan Hayward

EQ Virtual is working to become accessible to members of the Downtown Eastside. Photo by: Jonathan Hayward

Equinoxe LifeCare, a health care management company partnered with EQ Virtual, an online service allowing patients to see health care professionals through video visits, is working to become accessible for people in the Downtown Eastside.

The health care service, which is already available to the public, requires patients to have a computer or a mobile device; from there, they create their account, provide their health care card number for covered visits, describe their symptoms, and are then connected with a doctor over video chat.

Partnered with Mark Brand, owner of Save on Meats, EQ Virtual and Brand are collectively making efforts to extend the service to members of the DTES when and where they need it, without having to leave home.

Through Brand’s initiatives, the Token Program and A Better Life Foundation, a discussion with EQ Virtual began based off these programs.

“It came about that he [Brand] had a vision to provide what he’s calling the Public Access Link Program to the community, which is enabling people in the Downtown Eastside with a way to connect to services through mobile,” said Daniel Martz, CEO of Equinoxe LifeCare (EQ Virtual). The Personal Access Link Program plans to provide second generation mobile devices to members of the DTES.

Martz said through hearing about Brand’s vision for the Personal Access Link program and Brand hearing about the services EQ Virtual provides, it was “a natural fit to put the two together.”

“Hearing about Brand in the media and community raised our awareness to all the amazing work he’s doing in the Downtown Eastside to increase access for that community,”  said Martz.

Martz said they’re currently in the early stages planning how the two programs will work together.

“The doctors are all BC-based physicians who provide services in the province,” said Martz. He added many of them have their own clinics and provide service to their own patients as well as providing services via the virtual clinic.

In the case where patients need to be examined physically, Martz said they will be  referred to a physical clinic that is a part of their network.

“We refer to existing general practitioner clinics and also specialist clinics,” he said.

Patients will also be able to connect online with psychiatrists and psychologists for mental health related issues.

“In that type of consult, it can provide a sometimes even better experience for the patient, given that they don’t have to leave their home and sit in a waiting room and worry that someone may spot them there,” said Martz. “It also allows them to be in a comfortable environment, to get the care that they need.”

At time of publishing, Mark Brand had not responded to a request for comment.

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