A clinic in the Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM) says it has spent over $20,000 in out-of-pocket expenses in an effort to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to local residents.
“I am requesting funding in the amount of $20,600.86 on behalf of Dr. T. G. Remillard Professional Corporation,” stated Melody Fox, nurse practitioner in a letter to TBM council.
“In order for Dr. Remillard to cover his out-of-pocket expenses which are largely for salaries for his administrative staff at the Blue Mountains Community Health Centre, but also include website charges and mileage costs,” she continued.
According to Fox, in early June the Blue Mountains Community Health Centre held two drive-thru clinics at the Beaver Valley Community Centre in Thornbury, which immunized 472 individuals.
The clinic also facilitated a mobile unit to assist with homebound individuals as well as enabling delivery of the vaccine to various local businesses.
“We have been running vaccine clinics daily since mid-June,” she stated. “To date, we have given 3,388 vaccines.”
In her correspondence to TBM council, which was discussed at a council meeting held on Monday afternoon, Fox stated that TBM was at a “disadvantage” when it came to vaccine distribution.
“The regional hubs were a great distance away from us, resulting in members of our community having to travel several hours and take work off to receive their immunizations,” she stated.
TBM Mayor Alar Soever, who has been actively involved with the vaccine distribution across TBM, concurred noting that because TBM is located in the far east corner of Grey County, residents had a more difficult time accessing the health unit’s mass vaccination clinics, which were established in Owen Sound, Hanover and Kincardine.
“At first it was quite difficult for people to get vaccinations locally and once they started providing these services locally, things did pick up,” Soever said during Monday’s council meeting.
The correspondence from the clinic suggested the out-of-pocket expenses were incurred due to the need to hire one individual who was trained on COVAX for data entry and to cover overtime hours worked by clinic staff.
“We were able to initiate this program with volunteers but as the need for vaccines increased in the area, so too did the scope of the project,” said Fox.
While looking at the nearly 4,000 injections administered by the clinic, councillor Rob Sampson suggested the facility and staff went above and beyond the call of duty by administering the vaccine far beyond its regular patient list.
“It looks like he dealt with anybody and everybody who came in, which is a tremendous effort. And we should try to find a way to support that,” said Sampson.
Council members then moved a motion to receive the correspondence and refer the request to both TBM’s community service department and the finance department for a staff report that will outline the clinic’s specific cost breakdown, any additional requests from other doctors and clinics in the area, as well as any possible funding streams through public health and/or the upper levels of government.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca