Is Time Right for More Polyclinics in North America?

February 17, 2010 by  

One of the reasons I was very excited about my volunteer assignment in the Polyclinic in the Athletes Village was the opportunity to really experience inter-professional practice in action.

It has been many years since I practiced clinical nursing and worked side by side with other health professionals in the field. Here was the chance to experience this in 2010, and in a setting where many health professionals are actively working together collaboratively to meet individual patient needs.

Like other health professionals in the field today, I use terms like inter-professional practice, collaboration and team work regularly and often discuss the actualities of important current concepts like patient-focused care. This seemed like an awesome opportunity to experience the realities of what many might call “lingo”.
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The Polyclinic is Getting Busier

February 16, 2010 by  

Today was a busy day at the Polyclinic. More and more people now know what’s available here. Dentistry is very busy as is the Optometrist especially with the Eastern Block countries. Physio and massage are booked regularly and appointments at Radiology (Xray), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and CT scanning are getting busier. Along with athletes in the Village sent by their team doctors and training staff, IOC officials and their guests are often sent in by the medical staff at the hotels where they are staying. They are known as Olympic Family and are treated with great hospitality by the host country.

As well as athletes and their friends arriving for this and that, there are many country delegations that come in to see the Operations and meet the providers and organizers of the Polyclinic. One of the groups visiting today was from the UK. I spoke with one of the doctors who is responsible for setting up the 2012 Summer Games healthcare services. He was surprised to know that we are all volunteers and very interested in our reasons for volunteering for this assignment. Read more

Evenings at the Clinic

February 9, 2010 by  

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.