A dozen N.S. pharmacies to provide more medical services as part of pilot program 

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia launches pharmacy primary care clinic pilot project'
Nova Scotia launches pharmacy primary care clinic pilot project
WATCH: The Nova Scotia government is launching a pilot project they hope will help free up space in the province’s struggling emergency departments. The program gives participating pharmacies clinics to treat patients for common illnesses. Alicia Draus reports – Jan 31, 2023

Nova Scotia is spending about $1 million on a pilot project that will allow pharmacists to see patients with common illnesses, as well as prescribe and manage medications for more ailments.

The project, called the Community Pharmacy Primary Care Clinics program, will be piloted in 12 pharmacies in the province and begin offering appointments Feb. 1.

More locations will be added in the spring, according to the province.

“This is an example of how we need to modernize our health-care system and using the skills and qualifications of folks that are trained to do this work so we can broaden our ability to care for people,” said Michelle Thompson, health and wellness minister, during a Tuesday news conference.

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She said the program will help Nova Scotians access care faster, and free up emergency departments for emergencies.

“What this does is recognize the pharmacies’ part of the health-care system and include it in the publicly-funded services,” she said.

The clinics will give pharmacists dedicated time to see patients with common illnesses and people who are on medications for chronic diseases, which could include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The pharmacists at the clinics will also be able to assess and prescribe for 31 minor ailments — such as eczema and cold sores — as well as test, diagnose and treat strep throat.

Click to play video: 'Pharmacists Association of N.S. adjusted scope of practice'
Pharmacists Association of N.S. adjusted scope of practice

Expanding the scope of service for pharmacists will not require any additional training. For decades, pharmacists have legally been allowed to do this type of care for patients, but it was never provincially funded.

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“They’ve been allowed to do it, they just had to charge a fee, so what that created were some inequities,” said Allison Bodnar, the CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.

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Meanwhile, the CEO and registrar of the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists, Beverly Zwicker, called the project “the right thing to do” to make better use of the existing health workforce.

“This is an important shift in health-care delivery as we work towards solutions for our current crisis and supporting Nova Scotians in getting the right care, from the right person, at the right time,” Zwicker said in a statement.

Opposition parties say this is a great step forward to expanding care in the province, but with just 12 pharmacies taking part and only two in the Halifax Regional Municipality, there are concerns it doesn’t go far enough.

“Virtual care was brought in and that was quickly overwhelmed, so we can well imagine that in 12 pharmacies providing 40 hours of care quickly the tidal wave of need of primary care is going to overwash and overwhelm this too,” said NDP Halifax Chebucto MLA Gary Burrill.

Appointments can be booked online and some same-day appointments will open every morning.

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The pharmacy locations are:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 118 Wyse Rd., Dartmouth
  • Guardian Bedford, 535 Larry Uteck Blvd., Bedford
  • North Sydney PharmaChoice, 107 King St., North Sydney
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 254 Prince St., Sydney
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 912 East River Rd., New Glasgow
  • The Medicine Shoppe, 664 Prince St., Truro
  • Wilsons Pharmasave, 213 Commercial St., Berwick
  • Bridgewater Guardian Pharmacy, 42 Glen Allan Dr., Bridgewater
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1124 Bridge St., Greenwood
  • TLC Pharmasave, 157 Water St., Shelburne
  • City Drug Store, 369 Main St., Yarmouth
  • Brookline Pharmacy at 105-6 Bloom Lane, Bedford (appointments starting later in February)

— With a file from Alicia Draus

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