The Salvus Clinic is getting ready to launch a mobile health clinic to serve those dealing with homelessness, substance use issues and other health problems in the Greater Moncton area.
Salvus clinical team lead France Maillet-Gagnon explained at a press conference on Wednesday that people could access various services like screening for sexually-transmitted infections, overdose prevention and mental health counselling at the mobile clinic.
It takes place in a van set up like a mobile doctor’s office, with various harm reduction supplies like syringes and pipes for distribution.
Maillet-Gagnon said mobility is more important than ever for those who seek treatment at the Salvus Clinic.
“We’re also seeing a trend that they’re now more on the outskirts of the city just because they’re trying to hide, trying to find a place to rest,” Maillet-Gagnon said. “So we’ll have to partner with some of our other agencies to just see where people are located because they often also change location.”
The Salvus Clinic has hired a registered nurse to staff the mobile clinic, but needs to hire a social worker, two peer health navigators and an administrative assistant before it can hit the road.
“We’re hoping that in the next couple of weeks we can at least go to the shelters and so we’ll start with those visits until we get all the staff hired. We don’t want anyone to go alone either, they have to be paired,” Maillet-Gagnon said.
The van will be operational during business hours Monday to Friday. Maillet-Gagnon said they eventually hope to offer services at night when they have more resources.
The staffing costs, as well as specialized medical equipment and operational costs, are covered by an 18-month pilot project aimed at addressing substance use issues from Health Canada.
The $225,000 used to purchase the van and outfit it as a mobile clinic were paid for by Medavie, the Saint John Human Development Council as well as private donations from physicians from Horizon Health Network, according to the Salvus Clinic’s executive director, Melissa Baxter.
Registered nurse Ami Ashe, who has experience providing harm reduction services in correctional institutes, is looking forward to starting her work with the mobile clinic despite the challenges it may present.
“There’s a lot of logistical challenges we’ve been trying to sort out in terms we only have a certain amount of space, budgetary concerns, trying to make sure that we’re stocked to provide the best health care possible in a cramped space,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.
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