Ontario allows pharmacists to offer postpartum services

The Ontario government announced Thursday that pharmacies across the province would now be allowed to provide COVID-19 testing to clients in the post-partum period.

“Given the number of deaths from preterm birth and the high number of women who don’t reach their due date, we want to make sure more women know they have the options of seeking the medical help they need in advance,” Dr. Barb Devlin, the chairman of Neonatal Medicine at University Health Network and a specialist in high-risk pregnancies, said in a statement.

Devlin’s organization has been working with other ministries on initiatives to reduce postpartum problems, and the expanded testing has become a direct result of that collaboration.

The testing, which produces a result within an hour of a blood draw, will be provided by more than 1,200 independent pharmacies.

Laboratories currently offer a test that takes up to 14 days to produce a result, but the independent pharmacies will offer an immediate result.

Postpartum women will pay $25 to $30 per test. In the case of emergency surgery, which requires a blood transfusion, the cost will be $50. Other doctors’ offices have offered to meet the cost of the lab fees.

The announcement follows a dramatic change in Ontario’s status of maternal mental health services in recent years. The change came in 2017, when the government began to set aside a separate department for the treatment of postpartum depression.

Previously, because of difficult-to-meet financial burdens, no public health units were authorized to provide the postpartum care. That has slowly changed, and in 2018, all public mental health units were authorized to provide support for patients with postpartum depression.

That department is now under the umbrella of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

“Every mother deserves a support system after birth,” Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins said in a statement. “I am pleased that this new initiative provides critical care to postpartum women and enables them to get the help they need before things get worse.”

Read the full story at The Globe and Mail.

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