A new walk-in clinic is slated to open Tuesday at the Chatham Centre Guardian Pharmacy in the Downtown Chatham Centre.
It will utilize doctors via the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), as well as on-site nurses to help deal with non-emergency issues and alleviate hospital congestion.
Leo Liao, director of Good Doctors Medical, was at the clinic to help set up equipment on Friday.
“It works much like a normal walk-in clinic,” he said. “We see everyone. The idea is to improve access to health care.”
He said a typical encounter would be a patient initially being seen by the nurse, who collects the information and shares it with the doctor on the screen. The patient would then be brought in.
“The nurse is always in the room with the patient,” Liao said. “The doctor basically delegates some responsibilities to the nurse. The doctor may say, ‘Can you check the lymph nodes?’
“The doctor may also say, ‘Let me look in the throat. Let me look in the ears.’ We have connective devices that allow the doctor to see the images.”
Liao said most of the OTN doctors are based in Toronto and Ottawa.
He expects the clinic to deal with typical medical problems. People with more serious issues are encouraged to go to the hospital.
RPN Nicolette Skaarup, who will be one of the nurses at the clinic, said her experience working in the health-care field in Northern Ontario taught her the importance of remote medicine.
She believes Chatham-Kent patients will also benefit with this opportunity.
“It’s amazing how far technology has come in the past couple of years,” she said. “It opens up a whole new role … They don’t have to have the doctor physically there anymore. It opens up other avenues for people to see a care provider.”
Good Doctors Medical already operates three clinics, two in the Sudbury area and one in Sarnia.
Liao hopes to expand even further wherever there’s a need.
“The ultimate plan is to take this model into remote and isolated First Nation communities,” he said.
The clinic will be open on weekdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, call 226-799-2603.