Taking care of newborn health in our community: Introducing the Partnership for Well Baby Care | Faculty of Health Sciences

Queen’s School of Nursing, in partnership with Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) and KFL&A Public Health is opening a newborn and early childhood clinic to provide well baby health care to infants who do not have a primary care provider. The Partnership for Well Baby Care Clinic will offer interprofessional educational experiences for undergraduate nursing, nurse practitioner (NP), medical students, and post-graduate medical trainees in family medicine and pediatrics.

“Newborns and young children are extremely vulnerable and ongoing health care is essential for good health outcomes. We are very pleased to offer this service to babies and young children in our region and provide our learners with exceptional interprofessional and team-based opportunities to advance their knowledge,” says Dr. Roger Pilon, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and licensed Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (PHC-NP) who is helping lead this initiative.

Newborn infants and their parent(s) or caregiver(s) in the Kingston area who are unattached to a primary care provider will be referred to this clinic. It will operate two half days per week staffed by three primary care nurse practitioners (NP) from the School of Nursing and supported by nurses from KFL&A Public Health. The focus of the clinic is in providing wellness care, monitoring growth and development, milestone screening and delivering immunizations critical to early childhood health. If a child needs specialized care, the NP will make referrals to a pediatrician or other specialists. Acute care will continue through the Children’s Outpatient Clinic (COPC) at Hotel Dieu Hospital and local emergency departments.

KCHC and Kingston Public Health are providing administrative and immunization support and clinical space (221 Portsmouth Ave.). The Queen’s Chair in Pediatric Education and Research and Department of Pediatrics has also provided $50,000 in start-up funding to support this clinic.

“The first years of a child’s life are crucial for setting the stage for ongoing health and well-being into adulthood. With the current crisis in accessing primary care physicians, this clinic will help educate new health care providers and offer a critical service to ensure the health of our youngest patients,” says Dr. Bob Connelly, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrics Department Head and Program Medical Director, Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

“It is important to KCHC to work with our community partners to ensure the health of everyone in our communities, particularly priority populations,” says Dr. Rupa Patel, a family physician at KCHC and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine. For the past eight months, she and her colleagues at the Weller Clinic have been providing well baby care for infants without a primary care provider. They identified this community health care need and brought the partners together to help design the clinic.

It is estimated that 20 babies a month are born in the Kingston area who are not attached to a primary care provider. This initiative also benefits the larger health care system by providing essential wellness health care to infants and young children, resulting in fewer visits to COPC and emergency departments.

“We know there is a critical need in our community we can fill, while also offering an important learning environment,” says Dr. Pilon. “For 6.5 million Canadians without a family doctor, primary care nurse practitioners and registered nurses are playing a key role in ensuring the health of Canadians through team-driven clinical care.”

Queen’s Health Sciences and School of Nursing, KCHC and KFL&A Public Health are partners in the Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Ontario Health Team (FLA OHT) network which is focused on the critical health needs of people in the region and finding opportunities for stronger, more connected care.

This initiative aligns with two of the strategic priorities identified in Queen’s Health Sciences’ strategic plan: integrated health sciences education and clinical impact in the community.