Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Canadian Clinic in Surrey

The New Canadian Clinic in Surrey is overcoming language and cultural barriers to provide better health-care access to immigrants who have recently arrived in the Lower Mainland.

A large new immigrant population in Surrey, combined with a current shortage of general practitioners in the community, has meant some immigrants are relying on emergency services for medical care. The new clinic is addressing this problem by augmenting and integrating existing Fraser Health services with the social supports of the immigrant network in Surrey to provide a co-ordinated continuum of care.

The benefits of this new health-care model include shorter lengths of stay in hospital, fewer visits to emergency departments and an improvement in the overall health of new immigrants. The first patient referrals to the Surrey clinic were accepted in late November 2007. By this January, the Surrey clinic had attended to over 85 clients with multiple needs and very complex medical problems. For some, it was their first time receiving any health services.

“Our clinic uses a multidisciplinary and multilingual team approach to assist new immigrants to integrate more quickly into the mainstream health system,” said nurse practitioner Bal Dhesi. The team is led by a nurse practitioner and includes a nurse, mental health counsellor, medical office assistant, and community health liaison worker who each have the skills necessary to address the complex needs of recently arrived immigrants. “Interpreters have been scheduled for most cases,” said Dhesi, “and we collaborate closely with Dr. Kamaljit Sekhon, our primary care physician, on more medically complex cases.”

The clinical team focuses mainly on providing health management, education and self-management support for new immigrants with multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart, lung and renal disease. According to Sekhon, “Many immigrants are at an increased risk over the general population of developing diabetes and heart disease.”

The New Canadian Clinic operates Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with plans to adjust and extend hours of operation to reflect the evolving needs of clients.
Visits to the clinic are by appointment only.