Registered nurse and program co-ordinator Maude Blanchette Lamothe sits inside the new Victoria mobile health clinic, a joint program between Doctors of the World and Telus Health. The mobile clinic will work with members of the city’s street community to provide health care to those who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Photo courtesy Telus Health

Mobile health clinic treats underserved patients where they are in Victoria

Telus Health and Doctors for the World team up to expand idea

Marginalized people in Victoria’s street community have another resource for receiving medical treatment, with a new van-based clinic launched recently in the city.

Doctors of the World Canada, an offshoot of Doctors Without Borders, has teamed with Telus to expand its mobile outreach program into Victoria. Doctors of the World has operated a successful mobile health clinic program in Montreal since 2014.

Working with community partners and volunteer health care professionals, the organization will operate the Telus Health for Good-sponsored van, stocked with enough equipment and supplies to look after a wide range of health-related scenarios.

The van and its lead volunteers were introduced to the public this week, but the unit previously paid a visit to Our Place, where communications director Grant McKenzie said the new service has been appreciated by family members.

“The mobile health clinic’s ability to pull up outside Our Place and treat people who are limited in their access to proper care is fantastic,” he said. “The van is state of the art and the nurses genuinely care for the people they treat. Sexually transmitted disease is a sad consequence of street life, and having a private space for treatment is not only welcome, but essential.”

The vehicle has two main areas: one is for patient reception and nursing care, the other includes an examination table and doctor’s workstation, with equipment for providing such functions as routine testing, contraception, STI treatment, harm reduction services and mental health care and counselling.

“Doctors of the World’s mandate is to promote access to health for all,” said executive director Nadja Pollaert. “In Montreal as well as in Victoria, this can only be a successful initiative thanks to the great collaboration with our community partners. All together we share a common objective: to bring health care to the most vulnerable people wherever they are.”

Telus’ connections to technology helps make this van state of the art, with electronic medical record capability and constant connection to Telus LTE Wi-Fi network. Practitioners have the ability to collect and store data, examine results over time and provide better continuity of care to patients with previously had undocumented medical histories.

“We believe that everyone should have access to health care when and where they need it, regardless of their socio-economic status,” said Josh Blair, executive vice-president for Telus Health.

This division of the telecommunications company is working on bringing a similar service to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

editor@vicnews.com

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