Adult ADHD Clinic at UPEI seeks more staff as wait list climbs

Retired pediatrician and ADHD specialist Dr. David Wong is looking for more staff to help with the clinic's growing wait list.  (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
Retired pediatrician and ADHD specialist Dr. David Wong is looking for more staff to help with the clinic's growing wait list. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

Dr. David Wong is worried about the growing wait list at the Adult ADHD Clinic at UPEI.

The clinic provides assessment services for people who are undiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but are showing symptoms of it — or at risk of developing it. Those who are diagnosed can access supports that include prescription medication, counselling and coaching.

Wong, a retired pediatrician and ADHD specialist, said he had 400 people on his wait list before the new clinic even opened.

He said they have been joined by 300 more people, which means some will be waiting even longer to be seen at the clinic.

CBC
CBC

Wong said many physicians and nurse practitioners are making referrals to the clinic, and people are self-referring as well.

"They kind of recognize they have issues during their child period, education period, even university and college. But there was nobody who can recognize them. And now there's more publicity in the media so … they are raising their hand and coming over to say: 'I need help. Can you give me help?'" he said.

The clinic is a partnership between UPEI and the provincial government.

They invested $1 million in the pilot project. Wong is hoping that will become permanent funding.

More staff needed to tackle need 

Wong said the clinic needs the equivalent of 1.5 nurse practitioners as well as one half-time family doctor in order to be truly effective.

He said it's been difficult to recruit people to work for the clinic because it doesn't have permanent funding.

Wong is working to find more staff in the coming months. In the meantime, he said, the operation is concentrating on identifying people who are at the highest risk of something bad happening without treatment.

"For example dropping out of school, dropping of university or college, or maybe losing their job. Or their family dynamic is so poor. So we are trying to identify those who need the help most," he said.

Sarah MacMillan/CBC
Sarah MacMillan/CBC

Aaron Brown is the executive director of the Learning Disabilities Association of P.E.I.

He said the group is happy to see the clinic exists — and understands why the wait list is growing.

"Social media plays a big part in this because... a lot of people they kind of discover — in my case it was in my 30s — that we're living with ADHD," he said.

After they age out of the school system or complete post-secondary, all of a sudden they're kind of adrift out there in the world without any kind of support or specialized care. — Aaron Brown

"So many services focus on school-aged children, then after they age out of the school system or complete post-secondary, all of a sudden they're kind of adrift out there in the world without any kind of support or specialized care or anything like that.

"So yeah, I'm hoping the long wait list is an indication that the service is needed, and I'm hoping that it's an indicator that more resources will be put into the clinic."

Brown said he hopes the clinic continues to grow and expand.

Wong is hoping for good news about permanent funding in this year's provincial budget.

In the meantime, he's working more hours himself and continuing to hunt for more staff.