App to chat with registered nurses comes to Nunavut
Loblaw’s PC Health app mostly free, unless you want to talk to a doctor
Nunavut residents with access to a smartphone can now speak with registered nurses and dieticians for free through Loblaw’s PC Health app.
The nurses can give advice and answer questions about symptoms and treatment options, and connect people to nearby resources.
Aleisha Marchant, the manager of PC’s virtual care program, said nurses are available to speak about “anything from mental health, to chronic care, to acute care.”
Dieticians are also available to chat for free 15-minute consultations.
There isn’t a time limit for chat sessions with the RNs, which Marchant said makes the service different from going into a clinic where doctors and nurses are typically very busy.
“If someone wants to chat with us for an hour, we do that,” she said.
People can also stay anonymous on the app to help those who aren’t comfortable talking to someone in person, Marchant said.
“We get a lot more people reaching out about vulnerable situations or sensitive things,” she said, adding some Nunavummiut have already reached out since the app launched in the territory about a month ago.
The app also has virtual learning programs on subjects like smoking cessation, diabetes and taking care of mental health while in self-isolation.
While these services are free, there is a fee to speak virtually with a doctor to get a prescription.
Connecting with a general practitioner starts at $49 on weekdays and can be claimed under some benefit plans and on income tax.
Chris Puglia, a spokesperson for Nunavut’s Health Department, said in an email statement that not everyone in Nunavut has access to a smartphone or dependable internet connection, which are both needed to use the service.
“Unequal opportunities accessing technology in Nunavut make it challenging to embrace solutions that only some Nunavummiut can use,” he stated.
Puglia said the territorial government currently offers virtual care through Telehealth, which includes culturally relevant mental health services and a COVID-19 hotline.
The government could expand services as internet connectivity in the territory improves, he said.
Services on the Loblaw’s app are currently only offered in English and French, not in Inuktitut, but Marchant said the company is looking to expand and will welcome feedback on how to improve the app for Nunavummiut.