KAKABEKA FALLS – For more than 15 years, NorWest Community Health Center has provided care to rural and remote communities through its mobile health service. However, as the region’s aging population continues to demand more health care support, it is imperative that health care services meet the demand.
Nearly 10,000 residents across the Township of Oliver Paipoonge, Township of Neebing, Township of Conmee and Township of O’Connor will be able to get healthcare support faster than ever with the official opening Evergreen Pharmacy and Community Health Center Walk-in NorWest Clinic.
The facility was built to house allied health professionals to increase accessibility to multiple discipline health care teams in rural and remote areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for fast and reliable health care. With many crowds to get vaccinated, pharmacies like Evergreen had overwhelming crowds of people at their doorsteps. During this time, Evergreen’s space was limited, but now the new building has enough space to accommodate a small cafe, as well as convenience items for customers to enjoy while waiting to receive their medication.
For NorWest Community Health Center, the pandemic presented challenges far beyond their reach. Over the past two years, their mobile health unit has traveled to countless locations to help those unable to travel the great distance to receive medical care.
The hybrid model of collaboration between NorWest Community Health Centers and Evergreen Pharmacy will improve pharmacy delivery and explore the benefits of having a physician and nurse practitioner in the next room. These benefits would mean that pharmacists and medical staff can work as a unit to provide the patient with feasible treatment that meets their needs.
Simply put, if a patient has a bad reaction to a particular type of medication, walk-in clinic staff and pharmacists are there to make sure the patient can get the medications they need without having to wait for referrals. .
Devon Myers and Henry Templeman, co-owners of Evergreen Pharmacy, officially opened their Kakabeka Falls location in 2017. And after five years of hard work, including two years working tirelessly to vaccinate the public, they found that demand for their service was much needed by the community and surrounding area.
“So we’ve been practicing in Kakabeka Falls for five years now, and the need and demand keeps growing where our own space has outgrown it,” Templeman said. “So we had to look and see what was out there and there were no other spaces to collaborate with the clinic and provide more services to the community. It is therefore an opportunity to create a larger space and create a good working environment where several health services can work together and serve the community.
Myers explained, “We found ourselves in a position where we just jumped in with both feet and took on this project because we were able to pitch it to another group of people.”
This group of people was the NorWest Community Health Center, which will bring together nurse practitioners and community health workers right next to the pharmacy. Vulnerable and at-risk clients will still have access to group programs and home care. However, Norwest plans to support referrals to other diabetes, foot care, mental health, and dietary care specialists from this location.
Says Juanita Lawson, CEO of NorWest Community Health Centers; “Canadians living in rural communities often do not have access to the health care services they need, resulting in reduced physical and mental health compared to people living in large cities. These trends are most prevalent in rural Northern Ontario, where difficulties in retaining health care providers compound these difficulties. Our new model will focus on improving the physical and mental well-being of people residing in these communities by providing access to interprofessional care and prioritizing community connection. This new partnership with Evergreen Pharmacy is a step towards improving care for residents residing at Oliver Paipoonge, Neebing, Conmee and O’Connor.
Another group Myers, Templeman and Lawson contacted was Mayor Lucy Kloosterhuis, who was able to enlist the support of the Town of Neebing, Township of Conmee and Township of O’Connor to provide funding for clinic staff. without an appointment with a nurse practitioner.
“Well, there was a bit of concern that there was no financial support for a nurse practitioner to come here this year because the ministry is working on a schedule of April 1 to March 31 with their funding and that kind of problem fell through the cracks. So the municipalities of Oliver Paipoonge, Conmee, O’Connor, Gillies and Neebing got together, the heads of council, and we came up with a formula, so we’re providing the right funding for a total of $8,000 for the eight months remaining this year from August 1 to the end of the year for funding, but in the meantime we are working with the Ministry of Health to secure funding from them,” Kloosterhuis said.
Although the walk-in clinic won’t be fully operational until September, the pharmacy is open for business and ready to respond to any inquiries customers may need.