Iqaluit walk-in clinic now open Wednesday evenings
Pilot project allows patients to drop in between 4:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. one night a week
Iqaluit residents will need to come up with more creative excuses now to not see a doctor when they’re sick.
Nunavut’s first evening walk-in clinic started last week as a pilot project at Iqaluit’s Qikiqtani General Hospital.
“To our knowledge, this is the first of its kind,” said Dennis Stavrou, director of Iqaluit Health Services.
Every Wednesday evening from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., patients will be able to drop in for non-emergency medical attention for typical walk-in clinic issues.
These could be anything from renewing or obtaining prescriptions, getting answers or advice on symptoms, or seeking a referral to a specialist.
Patients can show up at the clinic in person at 4:45 p.m., to register for a spot during those three hours each Wednesday.
The aim is to increase primary care services to those who have daily obligations, like work or school, during the existing daytime walk-in clinic hours—while keeping patients without an emergency out of the emergency room.
In 2016, the Department of Health conducted a review of primary care programs in Iqaluit. One of the recommendations was to offer evening services for people who cannot make it during weekdays and put off seeking medical attention.
Evening walk-in clinic a brand-new concept to Nunavut
What Stavrou said was that the territory’s first-ever evening walk-in clinic known to the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Health was held on April 10.
It saw 18 clients.
“It actually went fantastic,” Stavrou said.
One doctor and one nurse practitioner were available to see patients during that first evening.
However, for the most part, there will be just one doctor, one licensed practical nurse and one clerk interpreter during those shifts, said Stavrou.
They will likely be able to serve just nine patients during the Wednesday evening clinic moving forward.
According to Stavrou, patient feedback was “absolutely fantastic”—residents and staff alike were pleased to be able to redirect non-emergency patients away from emergency services.
And it isn’t just Iqaluit that a service like this could benefit, he said.
The Department of Health would consider expanding evening clinic hours eventually to other communities in the territory.
Still a learning curve
While the pilot project does not yet have a scheduled end date, Stavrou said the Department of Health is “extremely supportive at this time.”
That means the weekly pilot project clinic could last three months, six months or years, as the department collects data and runs surveys on patient and staff satisfaction.
It also means that the Department of Health does not yet know how much it will cost.
“At this point, we’re putting theory into practice,” Stavrou said.
Right now, the evening clinics are running by “utilizing very creative scheduling for staff,” dipping into overtime, and learning along the way.
“It’s all part of the learning process,” Stavrou said.
He expects the weekly evening walk-in clinic to become a permanent part of Iqaluit’s health services soon.
“We have to look at the pilot project and see how it goes,” Stavrou said.
“But the results were very overwhelmingly positive.”