Evenings at the Clinic

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Last night was my first evening at the Polyclinic. It’s beginning to feel really comfortable. Lots of fantastic people many from BC, others from all over North America. I worked with 3 nurses – 2 young fellows from Edmonton and another from the Royal Columbian here in Vancouver. All have taken their vacation to volunteer here for 3 weeks. They are all computer savyy so we get things organized together.

The sports med doc was from Minneapolis, loves volunteering at the Olympics. He has 3 young kids at home so he’s only here for a week. The other doc is from Quebec. We saw a steady stream of walk-in people until about 9pm and after that dead quiet. There’s lots of chat about where people are from and why they chose to do this.

I’m beginning to better understand the concept of a Polyclinic. Wikipedia says that a polyclinic is a place where a wide range of health care services (including diagnostics) can be obtained without the need for an overnight stay. Polyclinics are sometimes co-located with a hospital or may be located in another locality entirely. A typical polyclinic houses health practitioners such as doctors and nurses and provides ambulatory care and some acute care services but lacks the major surgical and pre- and post operative care facilities commonly associated with hospitals. Apparently polyclinics have existed for 10 or more years in Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and the former Soviet republics such as Russia and Ukraine; and in many countries across Asia and Africa.

In this Olympic Polyclinic working alongside nurses and doctors are volunteer physios, massage therapists, chiropractors, optometrists, and dentists. As well we have lab, pharmacy, Xray, MRI, and CT scanning – all staffed with volunteers. Multi professional services are provided to the athletes and their entourage, IOC and NOC members and their families and the workforce which consists of hundreds of volunteers who are stationed in the Village. There is no hierarchy. The culture is very respectful of everyone’s expertise and the tone is highly collaborative.

This is a fantastic opportunity to see inter-professional care in action. I intend to watch carefully.

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