Group medical visits grow in popularity

In a nondescript meeting room at the Castlegar and District Community Health Centre, seven patients gather in a horseshoe arrangement.

Submitted to the Castlegar News

In a nondescript meeting room at the Castlegar and District Community Health Centre, seven patients gather in a horseshoe arrangement around a white board.

They chat together amicably and, from a health perspective, they have a lot in common: they are patients of Dr. Keith Merritt, they all have Type 2 diabetes, most have hypertension, and they’re here to attend a regular group medical visit hosted every three months by Dr. Merritt and Interior Health.

“I am used to a regular office practice so dealing with patients in a group setting was initially a little stressful, given concerns around confidentiality, speaking in a public forum, record keeping, and other differences,” says Dr. Merritt.

“We are all timid about trying something new. However there is satisfaction on both sides. At the end of a session I feel we have dealt with a number of issues productively. This has been a positive experience for me and my patients.”

The patients share blood glucose levels, albumin/creatinine ratios, blood pressure and cholesterol readings with Dr. Merritt, who discusses each case individually and updates prescriptions during the visit. Anecdotes are shared and questions are answered. At the end of the appointment patients leave with a lot of information — more than they would get in a regular 10-minute appointment — and that information helps build their confidence.

“We are seeing more group medical visits being introduced as we continue to develop integrated care models,” says Darlene Arsenault, integrated primary care director for Interior Health. “The benefits include increased efficiency and improved access. Physicians report increased professional satisfaction and patients report increased confidence in their ability to self-manage their conditions.”

Group medical visits have been particularly well developed in the Kootenay Boundary region. Since being introduced in 2007 they have been embraced by five Castlegar physicians. Space is provided by Interior Health in the local hospital or health centre. Integrated primary and community care staff help organize the visits, which include a medical visit component, as well as an education component, often focused on self-management and facilitated by Interior Health staff.

During Dr. Merritt’s group, education topics such as foot care and exercise are identified by dietitian Jennica Hague.

“Group Medical Visits allow patients more time to discuss and learn about their condition with their doctor, dietitian, and nurse in a relaxed, friendly, and collaborative setting,” says Hague. “I appreciate being able to work collaboratively as part of a team with the doctor and nurse.”

 

Just Posted

RCMP renew request for help finding missing Nakusp man

Christopher Sanford was reported missing Aug. 5

Mishap with deer sends biker to hospital

Accident Thursday morning near Slocan Park

Car rolls down Nelson highway embankment, driver injured

Vehicle landed beside the Rosemont pedestrian trail

Pregnant Kootenay teachers fight to change compensation rules

Risk to unborn babies not recognized by WorkSafeBC

PLACE NAMES: Salmo and Slocan neighbourhoods

An an 1897 plan called for Salmo streets named Lincoln and Washington plus a Victoria Square

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Scene it? Castlegar New’s weekly photo contest

Take a guess in our weekly guess-the-location photo contest.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read