N.B. Medical Society launches guide to help doctors assess patient poverty risk
The New Brunswick Medical Society has launched a tool kit aimed to provide doctors with a guide to screening patients for poverty risks and helping them access helpful services.
Citing the nearly 14 per cent of New Brunswick families living in poverty, the clinical tool advises physicians of the need to screen everyone to determine whether poverty is a risk factor for each patient.
“How much you have in your purse is tied to almost everything in your life, including your health,” said Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society.
Individuals living in poverty are said to possess a greater risk for a number of chronic conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma and more.
“The first and foremost of these determinants is money,” she explained.
“The problem for me as a doctor and the problem for so many of my patients is they don’t know how to access many of these services,” said Dr. Sarah Gander, a Saint John based pediatrician.
With the guide in place and available online to physicians, they’re provided with proper lines of questioning to determine a patient’s situation, as well as how to help them receive support they may not know how to receive.
“This tool helps in a few ways,” said Dr. Linda Dalpe, a retired family doctor. “It offers doctors specific questions to ask about government programs but doesn’t make doctors social workers or accountants.”
Elizabeth Crawford-Thurber, executive director at the Greener Village Community Food Centre, was on hand for the announcement. She applauded the society for taking the initiative to address poverty reduction head-on.
“The announcement today is a step in the right direction,” she said. “It is a challenge but there are ways of a start, and this is a start.”
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