Demand high for pharmacy primary care clinic pilot project in Nova Scotia – Halifax

Demand for a pilot project connecting patients with pharmacists across Nova Scotia is high.

Two weeks ago, the province announced that 12 sites would open to help reduce wait times for care amid packed emergency rooms. A pharmacist in Halifax says the program is off to a strong start.

Alvin Thompkins, the owner of the Wyse Road Shoppers Drug Mart, says appointments have been filling quickly since the clinic opened its doors at his Dartmouth pharmacy last week.

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The Wyse Road location is one of two clinics located in the Halifax area under the pilot, with a third launching later this month.

“Things have been very busy right from the start,” Thompkins says. “We’ve helped a lot of people and filled most of our appointment slots each day.”

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Thompkins says they’ve been treating up to 30 patients daily, and that many are seeking care for similar needs.

“A lot of children with strep who we’re able to test and assess,” he explains. “So that has been one of our more important ones. And then prescription renewals.”

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia launches pharmacy primary care clinic pilot project'

Nova Scotia launches pharmacy primary care clinic pilot project

He says the new clinic helps to reduce barriers to care by taking away fees and giving pharmacists dedicated time with patients.

“The scope has been there,” he says. “But there have been fees for service with a lot of prescribing, especially of the minor ailments and that sort of thing.”

Pharmacists can prescribe for 31 minor ailments like eczema and cold sores and provide treatment for people on medications for common illnesses like diabetes and asthma.

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Parent Amanda Coakley attended the clinic on Friday with her four-year-old son. She says resources like this are a help.

“I know so many other people, especially parents, are really struggling to try to find care and resources,” she says. “So being able to have this kind of access is fantastic.”

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She was there with her son for an ear infection, although she later contacted Global News to share that’s not something the pharmacy can treat.

Thompkins is excited about the future.

“Everyone I talk to, everybody has had a lot of success,” she says. “A lot of appointments and we’re filling up quickly.”

In a statement, the province says data is still being collected on the clinics, but so far the feedback has been positive.

The Health Department says the pharmacy clinic locations for the pilot were based on need.

“These pharmacies are in communities that have the highest number of people in need of family doctors,” the department says. “Pharmacies were invited to apply, and PANS (Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia) used the information provided to select the pharmacies for the pilot. We appreciate that there are many needs across the province and expect more pharmacies to be added to the pilot this spring.”

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The Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia says planning for Phase 2 is already underway with 12 more sites opening in May.

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