The extended hours medical clinic in Burns Lake Wednesday night has passed through its pilot project phase and is now ongoing.
Key to the clinic, which runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Wednesday at the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre, is the ability of people to be seen by a physician outside of normal business hours.
That ability grew out of an assessment conducted by local physicians who found that members of the community had difficulty seeing a physician in a timely fashion during the course of a normal working day.
And Burns Lake physician Dr. Tammy Williams says the clinic has also helped achieve another objective — reducing the demand on the hospital’s emergency room to provide non-emergent or urgent care.
“We really want to keep the ER for emergent and non-emergent care,” she said.
People using the extended hours clinic may require anything from a prescription renewal to an initial assessment followed by arranging for follow up care during regular hours.
“The wait is not as long. The appointments are not meant to be long,” Williams also said of the extended hours clinic.
“So far what we’ve seen has been very satisfactory,” she added of how locals are responding to the opportunity.
Although Lakes District residents may be surprised at the extended hours, Williams said the three participating physicians feel it’s a necessary part of their service.
“Long hours come with being a physician,” said Williams noting that the doctors in Burns Lake rotate duty so that they each do two 24-hour shifts twice a week.
Patients are seen on a first come, first served basis.
Eryn Collins from the Northern Health Authority says there’s the potential for the clinic to broaden out to provide specific health care information.
During the trial period, for example, diabetes education sessions were scheduled, she said.