A free mobile health clinic has launched in the Greater Victoria area for people experiencing homelessness or needing access to health services.
The roaming clinic will offer services such as primary care, harm reduction services, and mental health support will be provided free of charge.
The Cool Aid Mobile Health Clinic, powered by TELUS Health, is a specially-equipped clinic on wheels that provides trauma-informed, primary medical treatments, mental health services, addiction support, as well as COVID-19 assessments and testing directly to people who need it most.
Staffed with skilled practitioners who are able to provide a better continuity of care to patients who previously had undocumented medical histories, the Mobile health clinic will be able to collect and store data, examine results over time, and have the technology to assist the onboard care team.
The mobile health clinic is equipped with TELUS Health’s electronic medical record (EMR) technology, mobility services and LTE Wi-Fi network technology.
The clinic will also include a blood pressure, otoscope, and ophthalmoscope.
The mobile clinic is divided into two main areas, the first of which will be a patient reception and for nursing care; and the second of which will have an examination table and doctor’s workstation.
The second area will include primary health care equipment that will assist in routine testing, contraception, STI treatment, harm reduction services, and mental health care and counselling.
“Staffed by a comprehensive team including physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and outreach workers, the clinic will be able to deliver specialized care to the target population where and when they need it,” said TELUS in a media statement.
The clinic will visit locations throughout Greater Victoria determined in collaboration with community partners — in parks, shelters, supportive housing locations, soup kitchens, food banks, and on the streets.
“By going to our clients instead of asking them to come to us, we get to step into their world and see the many barriers and challenges they are facing that may not be apparent when meeting with them in a more clinical setting,” said Robyn Kyle, Cool Aid Health outreach worker.
“Part of what makes outreach workers so crucial, especially in a healthcare context, is that we have the tools to address those barriers and challenges, which inevitably leads to better healthcare engagement and better outcomes.”
Mobile health clinics like this one have been set up coast-to-coast, operating in Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton, Ottawa, Mississauga-Peel Region, Waterloo Region, Montreal, Halifax and Toronto.
The need for a mobile clinic with harm reduction services comes as BC just recorded a record-breaking 851 deaths so far this year due to a toxic drug supply.
The lives lost between January and May of this year are the most reported opioid-related deaths ever recorded in the beginning of a calendar year.
In early June, Mayors across BC, including three from Vancouver Island, expressed their support for Vancouver’s request to Health Canada to decriminalize drug possession, which they said would move towards a health-focused approach to substance use.
“We ask that you approve this application and allow Vancouver to explore this ground-breaking approach to move away from criminal sanctions and towards a health-focused approach to substance use,” said a statement released Thursday.
“An exemption for the City of Vancouver will allow other municipalities to study the impacts of decriminalization and provide a valuable knowledge base to understand this policy as a way to counter the overdose crisis.”