Wow, two blog posts in once week after months of silence… what on earth is going on??
I found myself writing a lengthy comment to Derick at Around This Town, on his recent post called “QuickCare Clinics: not all they’re cracked up to be“. I, myself, am SUCH a fan of the QCCs that I felt I should probably post my thoughts here, with thanks to Derick for the inspiration, and apologies for the shameless re-purposing of his post title! 🙂
In his post, Derick shares a couple of incidents where a QCC would have been the perfect solution for his medical situation, but the clinic’s hours of operation wouldn’t accommodate him as they close at 7:30pm. He points out that other private walk-ins are open equal if not longer hours, and wonders why the province is investing and funding these types of clinics if they’re not stepping in to fill the gaps left by the private sector. That’s a completely legitimate complaint.
I would like to share my own experience. I have two young kids who have a terrific NP, but we can never get in to see her on the kind of short notice that certain illnesses and ailments require. I, myself, have a family doctor but her office is a half-hour drive away and also hard to get into on short notice.
So, over the past year I’ve taken various members of our family to the QCC on St. Mary’s a half-dozen times, including once on Thanksgiving Sunday.
I LOVE IT.
I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes to get in, the NPs are professional, caring, and efficient. They encourage you to make a follow-up appointment with the same NP if need be — continuity of care that is rare in a walk-in situation. The clinic is spotlessly clean and the staff are bilingual.
Basically, the QCCs are the polar opposite of every single private walk-in clinic I’ve ever been to. (That’s a good thing.) For me it’s hard to even put a QCC and a typical walk-in clinic in the same category since one is so vastly superior to the other, in my experience. In the past I would have spent a day or two waffling over whether to drag my butt to a walk-in (or worse, endure an hours-long wait with a sick child), just dreading it. Now that I know about the QCC, the decision to get medical care is an easy one that’s almost pleasant to make.
All that said, I think they must be a too-well kept secret – I admit I’ve actually been a little concerned that they’re not busy enough. Clearly they are in need of better promotion, though I think word-of-mouth is starting to work – I got the scoop from a family member who’d been there, and haven’t been to another walk-in since. Now whenever the topic arises, I make it a point to let people know about them.
I personally think it’s a terrific model (NPs are the more appropriate care provider for the sorts of ailments that bring people to the clinic, and cost less to employ, to boot). The hours work well for my family, and the other families I know who’ve used the QCCs are huge fans. But of course, there’s always room for improvement — they could certainly serve even more people by extending their hours and doing a better job of communicating exactly what those hours are.
The province definitely has work to do in improving efficiency. But adding more services in hospital-based clinics (as Tom Brodbeck suggests) is, in my view, not the solution. My kids’ NP works out of a hospital clinic. We tolerate it because she is awesome. But I have two major complaints about the location of her clinic: one, parking around St. Boniface Hospital is a costly nightmare, and two, it’s in a hospital, a germ-infested sick zone that’s the last place I want to bring my generally healthy kids (and self) into for checkups and other minor ailments.
I’m a big fan of keeping health care services in communities and neighbourhoods, rather than consolidating them into mega-centres. In the grand scheme of things, I think that the visibility of the QCCs within the landscape of our daily lives is helpful in reinforcing the idea that healthcare can be associated with wellness, not just illness and injury (as most associate hospitals with).
So that’s my two cents on our local QuickCare Clinics. Would love to hear others’ thoughts and experiences!