More Nova Scotians will receive primary healthcare services as a new mobile clinic begins moving around the province.
The clinic, staffed by nurse practitioners and other primary care providers, is a temporary service that helps bridge the gap in primary care services. It was put together in September and located in Sydney to serve patients in that area in the aftermath of hurricane Fiona. More than 300 people visited the clinic, which offers a combination of in-person and virtual treatment for injuries and illnesses such as flu or cold symptoms, rashes, muscle pain and urinary tract infections. People can also get prescriptions refilled or renewed.
The clinic will be in Antigonish this weekend before moving to other areas of the province. Details about locations will be announced by Nova Scotia Health.
“The global shortage of healthcare professionals requires that we look at non-traditional approaches for delivering healthcare. And while we continue to work hard at recruiting and retaining more doctors, nurses and other vital healthcare workers, we must also look at new ways to meet the more immediate healthcare needs of Nova Scotians,” said Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness. “The mobile clinic, along with VirtualCareNS, the introduction of urgent treatment centres, more community-based primary care clinics, and expanding the scope of primary care services offered by pharmacies will ensure thousands more Nova Scotians have access to care.”
The mobile clinic, a converted fifth wheel trailer, includes all the medical equipment needed to quickly set up a clinic anywhere in the province. It does not provide lab or diagnostic imaging services like blood tests, MRIs or X-rays, and cannot treat patients with urgent or life-threatening medical emergencies. Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should visit their local emergency department or call 911.
In Antigonish, the clinic’s healthcare team will focus on the needs of St. Francis Xavier students, many of whom are not permanent residents and who do not qualify for the Need a Family Practice Registry or VirtualCareNS. Appointments are required and must be booked by phone.
The mobile clinic was created through Nova Scotia Health’s Innovation Hub and is a partnership between Nova Scotia Health, Emergency Health Services, key community partners and Praxes medical group.
Action for Health, the government’s strategic plan to improve healthcare in Nova Scotia, encourages the health authorities (Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health) to develop innovative primary healthcare models to deliver care when, where and how it is needed. The mobile clinic will help provide the care Nova Scotians need and deserve, which is a key solution in the plan.
The Nova Scotia Health Innovation Hub, through working with partners, is using a test and try approach for innovative delivery of care in our province. These mobile primary healthcare clinics are an excellent example how we can help bridge the gap in access to care for Nova Scotians and give our healthcare professionals the opportunity to bring their expertise to different parts of the province. We are incredibly thankful to key partners and community leaders in our Eastern and Western zones, who are helping us to successfully scale this service.
Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice-President, Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive, Nova Scotia Health
Mobile primary care clinics are meant to bridge key gaps and needs within communities across the province. It is another form of access to primary care services by meeting the community where they are. We are using test and try approach by starting small and getting 60 per cent right and then we learn in real time. We already have great learnings from our implementation in Sydney during hurricane Fiona that has informed this broader implementation.
Tara Sampalli, Senior Director, Implementation Science and Evaluation, and Global Health System Planning, Nova Scotia Health
We have a long history of partnering with Nova Scotia Health to provide many healthcare initiatives for St. FX students. These collaborations have led to improved continuity of care for students and have been invaluable in building relationships with our Nova Scotia Health colleagues. We’re excited to partner with them once again on this project, which will offer a much-needed boost to our limited capacity for providing primary health care to our students.
Margaret McKinnon, Director of Health, Counselling and Accessible Learning, St. Francis Xavier University