Hospital and community services partner to bring innovative care to vulnerable populations

News / Patient Care

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has partnered with the Street Health Centre (SHC) and the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) to bring innovative ultrasound services where it is needed most for vulnerable populations in Kingston.

SHC provides care to vulnerable populations by operating low-threshold, barrier-free access to primary care and addiction services for those who are homeless or precariously housed, may have been incarcerated, and may be affected by or at risk of acquiring Hepatitis C.

“One challenge faced by Street Health’s Hepatitis C program relates the requirement for clients to undergo diagnostic liver ultrasound to support the development a treatment plan,” says Brittany Couto, Manager of Street Health. “However, there is a very high no show rate for this diagnostic procedure with as many as eight out of 10 patients not showing up for their ultrasound appointment. This leads to delays with the treatment plan and inefficient use of health care resources.”

SHC’s Hepatitis C program is one of 20 provincially funded teams in Ontario providing access to education, testing and treatment for individuals who have difficulty accessing mainstream healthcare services. KHSC partnered with the Street Health Centre to deliver the ultrasound imaging at its Barrack Street site rather than at the hospital. This innovative collaboration will bring care to the patient’s location for the best outcome and best use of resources.

“We knew that we needed to look at a new way to deliver care that was more patient centred for this population,” said Mike McDonald, Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Executive at KHSC. “Partnerships such as this demonstrate KHSC’s ability to be a hospital beyond walls that delivers complex, acute and specialty care where and when it is needed most. This important initiative is a great example of placing our experts and services in the community and actively involving community partners as members of our care teams to improve access to care and improve the health of our community.”  

Funding for the ultrasound was made possible by donors through the UHKF, the fundraising arm for KHSC and Providence Care. “A number of donors supported this initiative including Kawartha Credit Union who has a long history of supporting the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation dating back to 2006,” says Tom Zsolnay, President and CEO of UHKF.

 “As KHSC strives to improve the health of the community through partnership and innovation, partnerships with our health care partners, and donors from the community through UHKF, we can discover and apply innovations that improve patient outcomes and make our communities healthier,” says McDonald.

As part of the Kingston Community Health Centre, the Street Health Centre is open 365 days a year to deliver health services through a wrap-around care model for people who face barriers accessing mainstream health services. SHC began as a needle exchange program in 1992 and has evolved into a multi-service model providing health, disease prevention, primary care, and treatment services.