A new walk-in clinic in downtown Orillia is a sign of the changing times.
Avail Cannabis Clinics has partnered with City Med Pharmacy, at 43 Colborne St. W., to open a walk-in clinic that will provide both general assessments and prescriptions for medical cannabis.
“We’re going to reduce local wait times and provide conventional medical care for anybody that may not have a family doctor,” said Justin Whitehall, CEO of Avail Cannabis Clinics, which opened a location on Mississaga Street last June.
Patients at the new walk-in clinic, which opened recently, will consult with a physician online, in real time, and there will be a registered practical nurse on site.
“You can see a doctor, and get your prescription filled on the way out,” Whitehall explained.
Prescriptions for cannabis will not be available at the clinic. Those will have to be shipped to the patient. Whitehall expects that to change before long.
“One day, cannabis will be distributed through pharmacies,” he said, adding he is getting ahead of the curve by opening this type of walk-in clinic. “With the stigma being reduced, we felt there was no longer a need to have cannabis patients segregated from the rest of health care.”
The clinic welcomes patients who do not have a family doctor; the existing after-hours walk-in clinic in Orillia does not.
“Unless your doctor is a part of that network, you’re not getting in,” Whitehall said. “So, we’re significantly reducing wait times, including at the hospital.”
He is working on a plan that will welcome family physicians into the Colborne Street clinic to see their own patients.
“If we get family doctors in here, there will be more patients and we’ll be able to (serve) some of them through the cannabis component,” he said. “It will create more of a multidisciplinary service.”
There is no cost for those who visit the clinic in person. There will be a fee associated with using the service online.
An app called AvailRX is in development. It will offer people the opportunity to be assessed online, from home. Whitehall expects the app to be launched in early May. The fee will only apply to those receiving general assessments; it will be free for cannabis consultations.
City Med Pharmacy pharmacist Yash Vashishta referred to his partnership with Avail Cannabis Clinics as a “perfect opportunity.”
“Cannabis is the future. We want to embrace the future. That’s why I wanted to partner with Justin,” he said.
Whitehall has a similar partnership with Express Aid Pharmacy in Barrie. Renovations were required for that site, and that work is set to begin any time.
The Orillia clinic is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Once the Barrie location is open, the Orillia clinic will also open Thursdays and Fridays.