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Mobile van offers COVID-19 reassurance to St. Joe’s outpatients

Voyageur driver Jim McGuire, stands with St. Joseph’s RNs Robert Biba and Terry O’Connor in front of the Mobile Clinic van.
Voyageur driver Jim McGuire, stands with St. Joseph’s RNs Robert Biba and Terry O’Connor in front of the Mobile Clinic van. St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton

St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ont., has launched a mobile clinic for outpatients within its mental health program.

The goal is to keep patients safe from COVID-19 by bringing injections of medication to them, instead of requiring that they use public transit or other means to travel to the hospital’s West 5th campus.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Hamilton hospital increasing mental health support for front-line workers

Alycia Gillespie, nurse manager of the Schizophrenia program, says they’ve been on the road for about two weeks and have provided service to 72 people within a van retrofitted to ensure safety and privacy.

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She adds that the mobile clinic was launched as a temporary solution during the pandemic, but they now hope donations can be found through the St. Joseph’s Foundation to make it a permanent addition to their services.

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READ MORE: Hamilton has 468 COVID-19 cases, two more institutional deaths

Gillespie says the van has been provided by Voyager and travels to care homes across the city providing blood work and medication injections to outpatients, as required, on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

She says there are also safety benefits for the program’s nurses since they are able to bring people out to the van, and don’t have to go into certain communal settings.

According to a survey conducted in April by Mental Health Research Canada, 43 per cent of health-care workers in Canada have experienced high levels of anxiety during COVID-19, compared to 14 per cent before the pandemic.

Randi McCabe, a clinical psychologist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, says “even the strongest among us need help sometimes” and supports are available to help them cope.