Tag Archives: mission

Community Pop-Up Clinics (CPCs)

Community Pop-Up Clinic Poster
Our Community Pop-Up Clinic Poster

As part of our commitment to a holistic approach to medicine and to spreading awareness and education, we close our clinic doors (almost) every Friday afternoon. Yes, we stop clinic operations — or at least those that require the doctor to be present – to pursue our commitment!

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This is where you’ll find Dr. Brian Conway on Friday afternoons. No, he’s not moonlighting as a podiatrist!

On Friday afternoons, the VIDC team can be found on different locations in the Downtown East Side (DTES) holding our Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC). We can be found at various drop-in centres, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens in and around the DTES. At these CPCs, we register anyone and everyone interested in getting tested for HIV and HCV. The goal of is to bring awareness and to engage patients who would otherwise not have access to diagnosis, treatment, and/or care.

The clinic is set up such that from the very beginning, engagement is the main goal. Our team of research assistants and coordinators are on the front line doing registration. We talk to anyone and everyone who shows interest and explain to them how the tests work, help them with registration, and direct them as necessary. Following that, our HCV Nurse, Yashna Bhutani, takes over. She sets up the clinic part of our CPCs. She will have her own room – or corner, whichever is available – and does the testing. We use OraQuick® Tests for HIV and HCV. Basically? Yashna just needs to swab the insides of their cheeks – no blood involved – and the results come out in about 10-15 minutes. The test checks for the presence of antibodies, your body’s response to infection. If the test comes out positive — which indicates that your body has fought or is fighting either HIV or HCV — then we recommend more thorough blood tests. (To find out more about how OraQuick® works, click here.)

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Yasha set up and ready for testing!

The final part of the process involves the revelation of the results. If anyone tests positive for either HIV or HCV, Dr. Brian Conway is right there to provide immediate specialist consultation. Additionally, our HCV Research Nurses, Shawn and Yashna, would also have counseling sessions with these patients. Often these patients are unaware of their infection — let alone the treatment options and care available for people dealing with Hepatitis C. This is why it is very important to have Dr. Conway, Shawn, and Yashna available at the site to provide counseling, support, and consultation for these people. Sometimes hearing the news — both the good and the bad — from someone well equipped to help is all they need to have hope and feel better.

Nurse Shawn Sharma counseling a patient who tested positive for HCV about treatment options and how HCV is not a death sentence anymore.
Nurse Shawn Sharma counseling a patient who tested positive for HCV about treatment options and how HCV is not a death sentence anymore.

The idea with the rapid tests is for individuals who do not need extensive (and sometimes expensive) blood work done to not have to do it. If the test for antibodies is negative, why else would you need further confirmatory tests? The hassle in getting a doctor to sign off on a lab requisition form, the trouble of going to the lab to get your blood drawn, the long wait at laboratories, and the agony of waiting for your results — these are the things we try to eliminate through our Community Pop-Up Clinics. Basically, our CPCs are geared towards lessening inconvenience, hassle, stress, and fear involved with getting tested – the goal is to make it as simple and accessible as possible to get as many people tested and engaged as possible.

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Our CPCs are sometimes known as Testing Fairs to the community (and even among the staff, actually).

The main goal of our CPCs: There is a problem, there is cure available, let’s get the word out and stop the spread of these diseases.

Our CPC was also recently featured on the 24hrs Vancouver Newspaper, click here to see the article.

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Community Spotlight: Suzan Krieger

The biggest lesson I learned is that for me to see treatment through, it requires a team that includes doctors, specialists, nurses, receptionists, cohorts, family and friends. And of course, a dog named Charlie.   – Suzan Krieger

cover96_thumbnailThis month’s Community Spotlight features one of VIDC’s beloved friends: Suzan Krieger. Specifically, it’s about her article on the May-June edition of Positive Living Magazine entitled Hepatitis and Depression: A Personal Take. 

Suzan is one of those courageous individuals who successfully overcame the disease and illness and wrote about it. Her article recounts her journey from when she was diagnosed to her full recovery.

Suzan’s journey is far from pleasant, her diagnosis came as a shock that led to depression, the treatment she first received felt like it would kill her before it cures her, and the medical community seemed absent in all of this. After enduring all that, she resigned to letting the virus stay and live with it.

Fortunately, that’s not where her story ends,

A few years later, I went to a workshop put on by Positive Living BC that featured Dr. Brian Conway, the medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal honoree. At the close of the workshop, I spoke with Dr. Conway and explained how I had tried and felt I had lost on my treatment. He gave me his card and with a confident voice said, “I can help.”

Suzan met Dr. Conway and got introduced to VIDC and our commitment to holistic care.

We’ve written about this commitment a couple of times in this blog (here and here), and yet Suzan’s description of the help she received at VIDC deserves its own post.

The VIDC uses open discussion about feelings—treating one with respect and dignity and providing stellar medical care in as comfortable a surrounding as possible. The team’s approach can be thought of as holistic medicine (a form of healing that considers the whole person)—body, mind, spirit, and emotions—in the quest for optimal health and wellness.

It’s one thing for a medical clinic to describe what it aims to do, it’s a whole other thing if an individual who receive that care describes it. Suzan outlines in her piece what role Dr. Conway played in her treatment. Dr-Brian-Conway-Vancouver-VIDC-226x300

Dr. Conway helped me find Dr. Patricia Howitt, who is now my primary physician ... [Dr.Conway] met with me and explained my new treatment and, week by week, he kept my spirits up and encouraged me that this treatment—this time—would work.

Our HCV Clinical Research Nurse, Shawn Sharma RN also got a special mention,

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Shawn at STRUT 2015 [Photo Credit: Brad McIntyre]
Shawn Sharma, a registered nurse, set up a conference call with Gilead and my healthcare insurance company, clearing the way for treatment with the new drug, Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and ribavirin. The cost of the combination treatment is around $93,000 per year. Sharma also started me on a vitamin program and made himself available to me throughout the three-month treatment program.

However, VIDC isn’t just a two-man team, and Suzan saw that in action too.

The VIDC did everything from blood testing to ultrasound scans. ... VIDC’s waiting room is a wonderful, chaotic haven filled with patients waiting for their turn to be cared for. The staff provides TV, coffee, snacks, information, and support for the waiting room folk.

The reason we keep emphasizing the need and the importance of a holistic approach is precisely because of people like Suzan. Individuals who stuck with us and give us that pat on the shoulder and says “You’re doing a great job, keep it up.” Awards, acclaims, and recognition from anywhere can never compare to a simple heartfelt thank you from people whose lives you’ve touched and changed.

Volunteer;Recognition;June;10;2015;Vollies;All;Stars;Sports;Edition;Vancouver;Rowing;Club;Stanley;Park;Positive;Living;BC; Suzan Kreiger
Looking at her today, you would never have guessed how harsh her treatment journey has been!

Suzan, thank you for letting VIDC be a part of your journey and for being such a great example to others!

If you want to read Suzan’s full article (WHY WOULDN’T YOU?) click here!

Welcome to VIDC Connect

VIDC Connect is a community engagement initiative that stems from our mission:

Through innovative models of intervention, VIDC (Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre) particularly seeks to engage more vulnerable patients in a multi-disciplinary environment of health care. We provide peer-friendly education about disease, state-of-the-art antiviral medications (often available only within research protocols), and comprehensive support during and after treatment within an open, flexible, and community-based holistic approach. Services are provided in English, French & Arabic.

(http://www.vidc.ca/about/mission)

Basically? This is for YOU – for us to be able to connect with you and deliver our community-based holistic approach through a new medium: the internet!

This blog will be filled with anything and everything that we believe will be beneficial to your journey to health and wellness – news about treatments for HIV/AIDS and HCV, announcement about upcoming VIDC events, reviews and summaries of journal articles, tips and tricks on living healthy, and whatever else YOU would want to hear.

Check out our Contact Us page to get in touch with us!

To stay updated and connected, please visit our Subscribe to our mailing list! page and sign up for monthly updates sent directly to your email.