MediBus waiting for funding approval

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on January 19, 2014

Norman Penny and his wife Jane stopped by the Medibus in Weymouth last fall.

Karla Kelly

MediBus is awaiting approval from the Department of Health and Wellness on a funding proposal before reopening.

Dr. Ken Buchholz, the medical director with MediBus, told the Courier on Friday, Jan. 17 that MediBus had “self-funded” the three months of primary health care services they provided between October and Christmas.

MediBus moved their mobile health clinic between Conway, Weymouth and Bear River this fall for weekly health clinics with a nurse practitioner but since Christmas the trailer has been closed and is now parked in the parking lot of the Municipality of the District of Digby in Seabrook.

Buchholz said they may be able to claim payment for the services already rendered once they reach an agreement with the department.

 “That was a 100-day proof of concept,” said Buchholz. “We showed the platform is stable, the model works, even in the coldest stretch of winter we’ve had so far, people seem pleased with our services.”

Buchholz said now that they’ve shown it can work they are applying for the necessary administrative approvals to operate a clinic and submit claims for payment.

Buchholz said their proposal includes funding options for mobile clinics and he said the government could come back with “any number of combinations and permutations” of funding options.

Those could include the clinic being paid for each service it provides or some other “alternate funding” option.

He said the department is also looking at how and where mobile clinics fit into the present health care system, how they will work with the district health authorities, where their services are needed.

Buchholz said he has had several positive discussions with the department and the new government and he has every confidence they understand the new service and how it can help provide primary health care in under-serviced rural areas.

“We certainly put a lot of time and effort into the proposal, we dotted all our i’s and crossed all our t’s,” he said.

He said they wrote the proposal like a government policy document and even included draft regulations.

Depending on the response they get from the department, Buchholz said they could roll out the MediBus concept in other areas of the province as well.

He couldn’t say when they expect a response, only that it he hopes it will be “in the near future”.