The Kingston Health Sciences Center (KHSC) has expanded its Pulmonary Diagnostic Assessment Program (LDAP) to Napanee to help expedite the treatment of rural patients.
The clinic seeks to address barriers to care faced by rural populations and is based on a successful rapid assessment model in Kingston aimed at helping patients get through the system as efficiently as possible and facilitating timely care.
The clinic, which received $ 100,000 through the Lung Cancer Innovation Challengebrings the specialty care typically provided in larger care centers to a more convenient location.
Dr. Geneviève C. Digby, Respirologist and Clinical Leader of Diagnostic Screening Programs at KHSC says the research identified that 40% of KHSC patients live in Napanee or further west, and had to travel to Kingston to receive care.
The outreach clinic, which opened last week, will now operate in Lennox and Addington County General Hospital (LACGH) and will be a treatment option for those living in or west of Napanee.
In recent years, the Kingston clinic has been simplified and the number of clinic visits for patients reduced, but patients have still had to travel to Kingston, often needing to be accompanied by a caregiver or family member .
Dr Digby says the new outreach clinic aims to remain as efficient as the model in Kingston, but to make it more accessible to populations facing proximity barriers.
“There’s still a lot we can do when it comes to a centralized clinic model that people have to get to,” Digby says.
“The next step is to bring this efficient care model that we have created and try to lower the barriers even further and that means bringing it to patients.”
Dr Digby added that the clinic is already beginning to think of ways to make the process more efficient for both the physicians and patients involved.
She says it will be a dynamic clinic, developing it as the community advances to make sure it is flexible and adaptable.
The rapid assessment clinic has reduced waiting times between visits and treatments by more than 50% in many cases.
Dr. Christopher Parker, another respirologist at the clinic, says that waiting time between appointments can be a huge source of stress for patients and the clinic seeks to help alleviate that as much as possible.
“One of the most stressful things for patients in our experience is the wait time between when they tell you there is an abnormality on your chest X-ray or CT scan and ultimately you are told what that is. and, most importantly, you are told how ‘we’re going to deal with that,’ says Parker.
“And any initiative that we can do to try to reduce that time has a very significant impact on the way patients feel.”
Dr. Parker and Dr. Digby said that to their knowledge, this outreach clinic is the first of its kind in both the province and the country.
The LDAP clinic collaborated with community partners and the local indigenous community to help identify what would further help address barriers to care.
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and is among the lowest survival rates.
Rural Ontario populations face higher incidence and mortality rates from late-stage lung cancer.
The new clinic has been well received, with eligible patients choosing the Napanee outreach site as their preferred location almost universally due to proximity.