Campbell River’s new mobile health unit has gotten off to a good start, despite measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The service that we’ve been giving folks is outstanding,” said Kwakiutl District Council Health Mobile Outreach Coordinator Leanne McIntee. “We’ve offered service to 29 people yesterday in the span of three hours… It was folks that had severe skin conditions, people that needed prescriptions refilled, it was pretty amazing how much we did.”
The unit, called MOUHSS (pronounced “Moose”) was originally supposed to launch on March 27. MOUHSS stands for Mobile Outreach Unit for Health and Support Services. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared on March 11, those plans had to be altered.
“We weren’t able to launch until there were some guidelines around being able to be outside and connect with people distantly and that kind of thing,” she explained. “We were also respecting what the rules and regulations were. When we saw that it was loosening a bit and we were able to do a first-stage launch, we went out and offered folks service.”
MOUHSS runs four days per week, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They visit different areas of the city, ensuring that the service is approachable and accessible to all. Services provided are free, and the goal is to give holistic health services to those in need. Kwakiutl District Council Health is the lead agency on the project, but it coordinates with other agencies to achieve that goal.
Services on the unit include things from counselling to social work to more concrete medical needs like wound care and testing services. KDC Health has also received funding for a doctor who specializes in opioid agonist therapy, which uses either methadone or buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. The doctor’s position has been funded until September.
“If someone is wanting to reduce substances or not use substances any more, particularly because of the opioid crisis, the doctor has the ability to be there and alleviate some of the symptoms as well as get them into treatments or whatever it is that they’re looking for,” McIntee said. “When COVID-19 happened, a lot of substances, especially the smoking stuff had higher risks. We’ve seen an increase in overdose, and that’s sort of what we’re trying to alleviate as well.”
Sanitizing, physical distancing and wearing masks have all become part of everyday life, and McIntee said that though they have had to ensure all of these are in place on the MOUHSS, it has not been much of a hurdle to get over.
“To be honest, I feel like it’s fairly natural to wear a mask and sanitize for us. When folks come, we have the ability to meet them outside. We ask them if they’re comfortable, and if not we bring them in. When they leave, we sanitize. Lots of times folks are OK with having a chat outside, and if the doctor needs to do an exam they come in and we sanitize after.”
For more information on MOUHSS, contact McIntee at Leanne.firstname.lastname@example.org.