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New clinic opens in Cape Breton to provide primary health care for newcomers to Canada


A new clinic in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will provide primary health care access to newcomers to Canada.

Nova Scotia Health and Cape Breton University partnered to open the Cape Breton Newcomer Primary Care Clinic, located in the Nancy Dingwall Health & Counselling Centre at the university.

In a news release Tuesday, the director of primary health care (Eastern Zone) for Nova Scotia Health said the health authority and the university had a mutual goal:

“Create a space that would provide safe and culturally sensitive care to newcomers," said Sarah O’Brien.

The clinic, which opened Friday, provides primary care to those who:

  • have moved to Canada within the last five years
  • live in the CBRM
  • are without a permanent primary care provider

"We know that without this sort of access, people visit our emergency departments unnecessarily, so our hope is to reduce that need for this rapidly growing population of newcomers by ensuring they have timely access to the right level of care,” said O’Brien.

According to the release, patients are not required to register on the provincial Need a Family Practice Registry to make use of the Cape Breton Newcomer Primary Care Clinic, which differs from other primary care clinics.

Referrals for initial appointments can be made through community partners such as:

  • the Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration (CBICI)
  • YREACH Settlement Services (YMCA)
  • Cape Breton Victoria Regional Centre for Education (CBVRCE)
  • Nova Scotia Health programs and services (Public Health, emergency departments, Urgent Treatment Centers, etc.)

“The Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre has had the honour of providing primary health care and mental health support to students who are new to Canada. We learned about their health care needs and what their health care system looked like in their home country. This information helped us hone our expertise in newcomer health,” says Judy Kelley, director of Health and Counselling at Cape Breton University.

“Our language interpretation services, and extended clinic appointment times will ensure the families we see are well taken care of, which in turn, will take pressure off of urgent and emergency care centres in our area."

O’Brien says the hope is to expand services to include those living outside the CBRM in the future. Top Stories

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