Kingston Health Sciences Center (KHSC) has expanded its Lung Diagnostic Assessment Program (LDAP) to Napanee to help streamline treatment for rural patients.
The clinic looks to address barriers to care faced by rural populations, and builds on a successful rapid assessment model in Kingston meant to help patients get through the system as efficiently as possible and to facilitate timely care.
The clinic, which was awarded $100,000 through the Lung Cancer Innovation Challenge, brings specialist care generally provided at larger care centers to a more convenient location.
Dr. Geneviève C. Digby, Respirologist and Clinical Lead for the Diagnostic Assessment Programs at KHSC says research identified 40% of KHSC's patients live in Napanee or further west, and were having to travel into Kingston for care.
The outreach clinic, which opened its doors last week, will now operate out of Lennox and Addington County General Hospital (LACGH) and be an option for treatment for those who live in or west of Napanee.
Over the last few years Kingston's clinic has been streamlined and reduced the number of clinic visits for patients, but patients have still had to travel to Kingston, often needing to be accompanied by a caregiver or family member.
Dr. Digby says the new outreach clinic aims to remain as efficient as the model in Kingston but make it more accessible to populations facing proximity barriers.
"There's still only so much we can do when it's a centralized clinic model that people have to get to," says Digby.
"The next step is to bring this efficient model of care that we've created and try to further reduce the barriers and that means bringing it to patients."
Dr. Digby added that the clinic is already starting to think about ways to make the process more efficient for both physicians and patients involved.
She says it will be a dynamic clinic, building it as it goes with the community to make sure it's flexible and adaptable.
The rapid assessment clinic has lowered wait times between consultations and treatments by more than 50% in many cases.
Dr. Christopher Parker, another Respirologist with the clinic, says wait time in between appointments can be a great source of stress for patients and the clinic looks to help ease that as much as possible.
"One of the most stressful things for patients in our experience is the wait time between when you're told there's an abnormality on your chest x-ray or your CAT scan and ultimately being told what that is and most importantly being told how we're going to treat that," says Parker.
"And any initiative we can do to try to reduce that time has a very significant impact on the way patients feel."
Dr. Parker and Dr. Digby said to their knowledge this outreach clinic is the first of its kind in both the province and country.
The LDAP clinic collaborated with community partners and the local Indigenous community to help identify what would help address the barriers to care most.
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and holds among the lowest survival rates.
Rural populations across Ontario face higher rates of late-stage lung cancer incidence and mortality.
The new clinic has been well received, with eligible patients selecting the Napanee outreach site as their preferred location almost universally due to proximity.