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A 'pharmacy care clinic' has opened in Edmonton. What is it?

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Edmonton's newest pharmacy will double as a "care clinic" that will provide assessment and treatments for minor and common ailments. 

Pharmacists at the "pharmacy care clinic," as the Shoppers Drug Mart location in the northeast Pilot Sound neighbourhood is called, will be able to assess and treat conditions such as pink eye, cold sores, strep throat, and urinary tract infections. 

Owner and pharmacist Chad Edmonds told CTV News Edmonton the expanded services are going to allow him to "step up the game." 

The aim of the pharmacy care clinic is to help alleviate the pressure on Alberta's health-care system. 

"We need more family doctors, we need more nurse practitioners, we need pharmacists to step up and take the rein on this and hopefully ease the burden on health care today," Edmonds said. 

A health and law policy associate professor at the University of Calgary says these pharmacies would mean quicker health care for waiting Albertans. 

But Lorian Hardcastle noted, "There may be an erosion in quality of care given the different breadth of expertise that pharmacists have compared to physicians." 

Edmonton intensive care physician Dr. Darren Markland added, "If you have a pharmacist that’s looking after these little UTIs which keep happening and doesn’t find the tumour that’s growing in the kidney that’s causing them, you’ve got a problem. 

"And that’s the rare but realistic thing that we’re trained to find out."

Hardcastle is also worried about the commercialization of health services. 

"These truly need to be seen as stop gaps while we deal with the shortage of doctors," she said. 

"I applaud that people are trying to fix the problem but the bigger problem needs to be fixed by funding primary care, family physicians, care networks. And pharmacists are an important part of that," Markland said. 

Shoppers Drug Mart maintains that it is trying to be a part of the solution. It opened Ontario's first pharmacy care clinics in Burlington and Mississauga earlier this year. 

"We’re not replacing physicians," Anthony Spina, the brand's senior vice president of national operations and pharmacy transformation, said. "Obviously doctors are tremendously important."

The pharmacy care clinic is located at 5351 167 Avenue NW. It also provides vaccine and counselling services. 

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