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'New future': Pharmacist walk-in clinic opening in Barrie

'I am optimistic to see (this model) grow in other places,' says clinical pharmacist
A new pharmacist care walk-in clinic is set to open inside a Barrie Rexall on April 19, 2024. From left are Patric Rejimon, Rexall pharmacy assistant and receptionist; pharmacy manager Qaiser Hassan; and Rolan Vaisman, clinical pharmacist.

A new Pharmacist Care Walk-In Clinic in Barrie is hoping to not only help residents get faster care for minor illnesses and ailments, but also take a little bit of pressure on the local health-care system.

The clinic, located inside Rexall pharmacy at 353 Duckworth St. in the city’s north end, is scheduled to open to patients on Friday, April 19 and is the first of its kind for Rexall in Ontario, pharmacy manager Qaiser Hassan said.

The clinic will work similar to a doctor’s clinic, he explained, but with a limited scope, as pharmacists can only prescribe for a few conditions.

In January 2023, the Ontario government allowed pharmacists the ability to write prescriptions for more than a dozen common ailments. Ten months later, in October 2023, that number was expanded to 19.

Instead of a doctor, the clinic will have a dedicated clinical pharmacist from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week who will provide walk-in care to patients. Residents will also have the choice to book an appointment online. 

“People are having a lot of challenges getting access to doctors because clinics are too busy, doctors aren’t available and sometimes with limited hours," Hassan said. "We see people always complaining and looking for timely care.

Qaiser Hassan, pharmacy manager at Rexall on Duckworth Street in Barrie, says he's is excited for the opening of the Pharmacist Care Walk-In Clinic, the first of its kind in Ontario. | Nikki Cole/BarrieToday

“That’s why Rexall thought it was a great opportunity to provide services to the Barrie area," he added. "We are very excited and look forward to helping our community.”

Rolan Vaisman, who will serve as the clinical pharmacist for the Barrie clinic, said he hears all too often the challenges clients are facing in reaching a health-care professional in a “reasonable or accessible” time. 

“What we are trying to do is bridge that gap and provide accessible patient care that is timely and convenient, whether it’s for chronic disease management … or more immediate matters such as minor illnesses that we can (assist) with," he added. 

Both Hassan and Vaisman are hopeful this new model of care can help ease the pressure currently being felt by local emergency rooms and family physicians by offering immediate pharmacist treatment for minor illnesses. Their services also include chronic disease management, immunizations and injections, men’s and women’s health, point-of-care testing and travel vaccines. 

“One of the big things we are (doing) is a collaboration with other health-care providers," Vaisman said. "We know a lot of health-care providers — whether it is a family physician, walk-in clinic or the emergency room — are full to the brim and running around the clock trying to provide as much care to patients as possible.

“By collaborating … we are trying to ease that pressure by providing care for the things we are allowed to provide care for such as those minor illnesses," he added. 

Residents will also have access to the clinic’s Virtual Walk-In Care, which means they will have access to virtual physician care services when needed. 

“The idea is this will be providing yet another method of care that will help ease the pressures in those places," Vaisman said. "There are certain conditions that patients are going into those places for that I am certain can be seen through more accessible channels.

“I think this model of pharmacy is the new future," he added. "I am optimistic to see it grow in other places … and I am very excited it started in Barrie.” 

Having his pharmacy selected to be the first to offer this type of service is exciting, acknowledged Hassan

“I have seen my people struggling to get the proper health care they want even for minor ailments. I know it’s very practical and it’s going to help my community,” he said.

“Barrie is going to receive a great resource going forward… and the community can flourish with better health outcomes,” added Vaisman. 

Services that will be offered to patients at the Pharmacist Care Walk-In Clinic include:  

  • Minor illnesses (mild acne, UTI, pink eye, eczema, cold sores, seasonal allergies, etc.)   
  • Chronic disease management (diabetes, hypertension, etc.)   
  • Women’s and men’s health 
  • Travel health and vaccinations  
  • Point of care testing (Lipids, A1C, COVID, etc.)   
  • Immunization and injections   
  • Smoking cessation   
  • Prescription refills and renewals 
  • On-site physician virtual care.