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A clinic on wheels: St. Joe’s goes mobile to serve patients living with schizophrenia

Not all patients are able to get treated at hospitals during COVID-19, so St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is bringing the hospital to them.

Front-line nurses from the West 5th location are using a small, accessible bus to get out in the community to treat patients with mental health problems, primarily those living with schizophrenia.

The medical staff normally do their blood work and give them medical injections.

Alycia Gillespie, a manager at the West 5th mental health and addictions unit, said the mobile clinic operates each week from Tuesday to Friday.

“It kind of works both ways in terms of our nurses not having to go into a communal setting where lodging home operators really want to limit the number of people coming into the home and at the same time it is helping to negate clients’ needs to take public transportation,” she said.

Robert Biba and Terry O’Connor, both registered nurses at St. Joe’s, sit inside the mobile clinic that has served roughly 70 patients. (Submitted by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton)

The clinic did its first run at the end of April. The hospital network pays an hourly rate to Voyager to rent the vehicle.

Roughly 70 patients have boarded the bus. Most patients live in the east end, on the Mountain and in Brantford, but the clinic can also serve patients in Niagara and Halton.

Gillespie hopes with public donations the mobile clinic will become permanent.

“It’s a good example of how sometimes these difficult circumstances can lead to innovation.”

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