The People Without Doctors (PWD) Clinic is already in full swing benefiting an average of about 20 patients daily with their expert care and services, not even a month after it opened.
The Peterborough Family Health Team launched the temporary clinic on March 7,, and it will remain open till August 22.
“PWD Clinic is basically a data gathering exercise to obtain accurate data so we can lobby for an appropriate long term health care system within our community,” stated Lori Richey, executive director of the Peterborough Family Health Team.
She said that is their “ultimate goal.”
The clinic is steadily busy, but not overwhelmed at this point, reported Richey, and people visiting the clinic are generally those who had not had “care” for quite some time. They are in urgent need of thorough assistance. PWD provides that service or sets the patients up with the local community services.
It was learned that many of the people visiting the temporary clinic have mental health issues, anxiety or different health addiction issues, explained Richey.
“We are certainly finding people that really need some support or people that need to be linked out.”
The clinic is for anyone without a local doctor, or for someone who has a doctor from another community, explained the executive director, but ideally for Trent University students.
She emphasized to Trent students that the clinic is their second option. If they can’t get in at Trent Health Services, their second option is often to go to the emergency room.
Besides this recently opened temporary clinic, the only other walk in clinic is the Lansdowne Place Walk-In Clinic. But the difference is the linkage to other services that the PWD provides, pointed out Richey. It’s definitely better than going to the emergency room.
Richey shared with Arthur how this project got started in the first place. According to her, Peterborough itself was declared a “not under-serviced area,” meaning that they cannot add any additional positions within the current model of health care.
But the healthcare practitioners were aware of the grave truth that there are thousands of people within the community who are without a doctor.
As Richey informed, the PWD clinic is a data gathering exercise to lobby for appropriate positions. An ideal health care is a system is one where everybody has a regular primary care provider (within their choice), medical records are shared among the teams and patients are able to access interdisciplinary health care professional, she explained.
When asked about the temporary status of the clinic and its fate after the end of the six months, Richey responded by saying that “community will once again go back to emergency. It is not ideal, but that is something that is not really within our mandate.”
“This initiative is something which we have taken [on] with the hope to make a difference. So all we can focus on right now is that we will be successful,” she added.
She assured the community that they would do their best to lobby heavily and get some patient stories. They are also hopeful to get some backlash from the community, which will indicate the need, and help them drive their case towards receiving some action and permanent healthcare support.
But if someone is truly very ill, or homeless or in situations such as that, they link them with another provider who will take on their care, shared Richey.
“We are going that extra mile so at the end of that six months we have done what we can to give them some support.”
It is fulfilling to see the patients are generally extremely grateful for the time spent with them to have them connected to the services; they are feeling supported, or they feel like they are being heard and cared for. All in all, so far, they have been very successful and managed to help people navigate the complexity of the health system, said Richey.
However, she cautioned that people need to be mindful about the health system dollars and try to seek appropriate care whenever possible.
“We are breaking our health care system financially.”
Three retired and semi-retired family physicians, two registered practical nurses (RPN) and two administrative staff currently run the PWD. An addition of another physician is confirmed come this April.
Only one family physician at a time is made available for service; the RPN is the one spending a lot of time with the patients and helping link the patients with other services they may benefit from.