Physician education and community collaboration build sustainability

A retiring physician and increasing demand for opioid replacement therapy created a perfect storm at the opioid replacement clinic (ORC) in Sechelt. Patients were getting increasingly frustrated at the crowded clinic, and the clinic team was stressed about the ORC’s sustainability. Through a combination of simple approaches, the clinic turned the situation around to meet the demand. 

First, the Sunshine Coast Division supported training for doctors interested in opioid replacement therapy and motivational interviewing, and a partnership with the health authority enabled clinic hours to increase to two days a week. Physicians then reached out to meet with community pharmacists. They also created an on-call schedule, organized meetings with psychiatrists about best prescription practices, and worked with the University of Victoria to engage the community in dialogues about opioids. 

Each of these efforts alone would not effectively meet the challenges at the clinic, but in combination they did provide a solution and are a great example of how partners working together can build sustainability.

“We have numerous pharmacies along the coast. With all the changes in the clinic we thought it would be helpful to send a letter out to them. It was pretty simple: Here all the changes going on in our ORC clinic, we have new physicians and new clinic hours. But we knew that wasn’t going to be enough, so we held an open house with the pharmacists and brought everybody together and had a face-to-face. It sounds so simple, but it was so meaningful because suddenly those pharmacists could put a name and a face together. On weekends when prescriptions are going back and forth, the pharmacists need to know how to handle situations, and just having that face-to-face had a strong impact.”  

“We also created an on-call schedule for the five ORC physicians working in the clinic. So if there were any issues from the ORC nurse, from the hospital emergency, from the family physicians in the community, or from the pharmacists, it was a great way to have a single point of contact. And, again, something pretty simple, but made a huge impact.”
─ Wendy Griffin, Sunshine Coast Division of Family Practice