Nelson’s Community First Medical Clinic will open Sundays to walk-in patients starting in January.
The clinic, located in the health co-op building at 518 Lake Street, has been in business since 2008 and has three doctors on staff Monday to Friday as well as a resident physician.
Office manager Sharon Campese says upon learning the Kootenay Lake Medical Clinic in the Chahko Mika Mall was no longer open Sundays, they decided to step up their service to alleviate stress on the local emergency room.
“Currently we are available to walk-in patients as well as patients booking in advance,” she says. “We have an RN available to deal with diabetics, heart failure, and liver patients, plus a dietitian and mental health counsellor.”
Campese says they see patients for routine care as well as prenatal care, driver’s medical exams, and minor surgeries. They also have a pharmacy.
The clinic will open Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. beginning in the new year while maintaining weekday hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The medical staff already take turns working weekends to look after hospital in-patients, so this would be an extension of their existing shift, Campese says.
“That doctor would be the one working the Sunday here because they have to be on duty anyway. Possibly most Sundays we will have two physicians here.”
She adds that other than regular patients, most people probably don’t realize they’re available for walk-in, so they’re trying to raise their profile.
“Sometimes if it’s quiet we’ll call the [other] walk-in clinic and say ‘Do you guys have a backlog? We’ve got lots of availability.’ They often send patients up to us.”
Campese says they also remind the hospital’s emergency room that they are available for walk-in, if something minor comes up.
The clinic doubles as a teaching facility, with a new UBC med school student arriving every couple of months for a practicum. Other students also come in the summer to gain experience, although they mainly interview patients and don’t actually treat anyone by themselves.