Nova Scotia

N.S. health authority partners on walk-in clinics using pharmacists, nurse practitioner

The clinics at Lawtons pharmacies in New Glasgow and Truro are targeting two communities with a high number of unattached patients and where there is a high receptiveness to alternative models of care.

Pilot sites based at Lawtons pharmacies in New Glasgow, Truro

A Lawtons Drugs store is seen in this file photo. The Sobeys-owned chain is hosting two pilot walk-in clinics in Nova Scotia staffed by a nurse practitioner and pharmacists. (Bailey White/CBC)

The provincial health authority is collaborating on two walk-in clinics using a nurse practitioner and pharmacists in an effort to give more access to people without a primary-care provider.

Nova Scotia Health interim CEO Karen Oldfield said the clinics at Lawtons pharmacies in New Glasgow and Truro are targeting two communities with a high number of unattached patients and where there is a high receptiveness to alternative models of care.

"We know from data that our walk-in clinics across Nova Scotia are highly regarded and highly used," Oldfield said in an interview.

"The pharmacists and the nurse practitioner are known to people in the community and we fully anticipate that this will be embraced here in New Glasgow and in Truro."

The site in New Glasgow has offered a walk-in clinic for the last year using pharmacists.

Oldfield said the Sobeys organization, which owns Lawtons, approached the health authority about a year ago looking for ways to expand the clinic idea and offer more services. The Truro clinic opens on Feb. 28.

Expansion could be possible

The new clinics are branded with the Lawtons name. 

The sites will share a dedicated full-time nurse practitioner who will be an employee of the health authority and based in New Glasgow. Although the clinics are in Sobeys-owned pharmacies, Oldfield said they could be expanded to other locations in the province if the results are positive.

"If this model proves out to be something that people like and … it works, then I would see it being something that would be expanded and not just an exclusive arrangement. But that will take some time to figure that out."

The evaluation of the clinics will include patient satisfaction, their ability to reduce the wait-list for a primary-care provider and whether they divert people with non-emergency issues from local emergency departments.

"It is anticipated that there will be a way to direct or guide patients to the walk-in clinic that would otherwise be sitting in a busy ED for a number of hours," said Oldfield.

Giving communities more service

Speaking at an event in New Glasgow to announce the clinics, Michelle Stewart, the manager and a pharmacist at the New Glasgow site, said the response from the public is positive.

"They have demonstrated their support through flowers, cards and baked goods and many have become emotional," she said.

"It's been so gratifying to be part of this pilot and to experience first hand how we're making a difference for people."

With the addition of the nurse practitioner, Stewart said the clinics will be able to offer more services to patients, while allowing practitioners to work to their full scope of practice.

Clarifications

  • After this story was published, Nova Scotia Health clarified that one nurse practitioner, not two, will staff the two walk-in clinics. This story has been updated.
    Feb 25, 2022 5:49 PM AT

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