Calgary mobile clinic delivers critical, compassionate care
The Alex Mobile Care Clinic, powered by TELUS Health
In partnership with TELUS Health for Good, The Alex Mobile Care Clinic brings high-quality, low-barrier health care and harm-reduction services directly to marginalized citizens in need.
Breaking down barriers to compassionate care is the reason The Alex Mobile Care Clinic exists.
Housed in a sleek Sprinter van and powered by TELUS Health technology, the high-tech mobile clinic began operations in Calgary’s downtown core in April 2022, part of a long-standing and innovative partnership between The Alex and TELUS Health for Good. It is specially designed to bring high-quality, low-barrier health care and harm-reduction treatment to Calgary’s most marginalized citizens – directly to where they are.
It comes as Calgary, like many urban centres in North America, experiences increased social and economic challenges. At any given time, The Alex is supporting the more than 12,500 Calgarians who are experiencing homelessness or are precariously housed through life-saving programs, as well as the innovative mobile care clinic, powered by TELUS Health. Many are living with complex health and addiction challenges, yet quality health care and harm-reduction support is too often out of reach.
Emma Wissink, a registered nurse and Mobile Health Team Lead for The Alex, says there are numerous barriers for the vulnerable to access care – everything from not having a valid health card and facing a lack of transportation to mental health issues, trauma, housing and food insecurity, and experiencing challenges to social and community connections.
With the addition of the Health for Good mobile clinic, The Alex is able to expand its vital outreach work, offering an effective model of primary care to address specific needs within each community, and meeting people where they are – including on the streets, at other service providers, and in a wide variety of sheltering sites.
“The low barrier means we can go to clients who may not access services otherwise,” says Wissink. “It brings a lot of depth to the care we’re providing.”
And, just months after its launch, it's already changing lives, one client interaction at a time.
“Of all the challenges faced by street-entrenched people, one of the greatest is the crushing loneliness that you experience. A smiling face and some conversation, let alone medical care, go a long way to alleviating that,” says a peer support worker with The Alex.
‘Everyone should have access to health care’
The mobile clinic launch in Calgary is the latest in an ongoing effort by TELUS to empower Canadians everywhere to live healthier, happier lives. Since 2014, the tech company’s Health for Good mobile clinics have made health care more accessible to vulnerable Canadians in 22 communities across the country, marking more than 140,000 patient visits.
TELUS continues to expand the program, with a commitment of $12 million through 2025 and a goal to facilitate over 40,000 patient visits per year so more Canadians can access healthcare when and where they need it, regardless of their socio-economic status.
For organizations like The Alex, which has been meeting the needs of marginalized Calgarians through health, dental and food programs since 1972, that means more opportunities to serve the community when and where needed.
“We are more than grateful for the partnership with the TELUS Health for Good program,” says Lori Humphrey Clements, Chief Development Officer, The Alex Community Health Centre.
“With their support, The Alex can continue to bring mobile health care to vulnerable Calgarians every single day.”
The new mobile clinic offers primary health care, such as routine testing, women’s health services, mental health support, as well as addiction management and treatment. Nurse practitioners and peer support workers — those with lived experience — work collaboratively to build rapport with clients through strategic outreach and low-barrier care.
Equipped with TELUS Health electronic medical record technology and LTE WiFi services, the mobile clinic is also an important tool to not only provide immediate health care, but also quickly and easily improve continuity of care for clients.
“Everyone has a unique situation. Our job is to understand those unique situations and provide care,” says Wissink. “Everyone should have access to health care.”
Making a difference
Along with providing much-needed low-barrier care, the Health for Good mobile clinics shine a bright spotlight on the importance of accessible health care and the critical outreach work offered through organizations like The Alex. Health care providers and support workers at the non-profit also credit TELUS for stepping up in smaller, but no less vital ways.
Last month, the world-leading tech company donated grocery gift cards and other essentials, with nearly 20 TELUS Team members joining efforts with staff from The Alex to help pack and distribute The Alex ‘Holiday Hope Totes’ — backpacks full of toiletries, warm clothing, food and grocery gift cards that went to some of The Alex’s Mobile Care Clinic visitors.
TELUS team members helping pack The Alex ‘Holiday Hope Totes’ — backpacks full of toiletries, warm clothing, food and grocery gift cards.
The gesture of kindness of community giving was deeply appreciated – both by those handing out the much-needed supplies and those receiving them.
“This holiday season, TELUS and their employees helped keep a little holiday spirit alive by putting together Holiday Hope Totes for many who may not have found something warm and special for them under the tree,” says Clements. “Thank you, TELUS, for continuing to make a difference in our community.”
The mobile care clinic is just one of many ways TELUS is working to improve life for all Albertans.
Since 2000, TELUS has provided over $198 million in cash, in-kind contributions, time and programs and volunteered 3.2 million hours to charities and community organizations located in Alberta. Most recently the company announced a $2-billion investment to link 90 per cent of Calgary homes and businesses to PureFibre X, with most expected to connect by the end of 2023. Finally, the TELUS Health MyCare App has become increasingly important to help combat the rising concern of mental health issues in the province.