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Local leaders recognized for innovation with Nova Scotia Health Quality Award

Mar 28, 2024

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New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Thursday, March 28, 2024


The Virtual Care @ Your Library Pilot Project has received a 2024 Nova Scotia Health Quality Award in the Health Care Innovation Team category.

This one-year pilot project, co-created by Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL), Nova Scotia Health, and the Aberdeen Health Foundation, delivered a client-focused program that removes a key barrier preventing some people from accessing virtual care. The program provided a dedicated, trained staff person at the library to assist patrons with seeing a primary care practitioner online.

Photo caption: Virtual Care @ Your Library is a one-year pilot project co-created by Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL), Nova Scotia Health, and Aberdeen Health Foundation. The project helps address inequities in virtual health care access by providing a dedicated staff at local libraries to assist patrons in seeing a health care practitioner online. The program recently received a 2024 Nova Scotia Health Quality Award in the Health Care Innovation Team category. Pictured left to right: Michelle Ferris (Aberdeen Health Foundation), Melanie Pauls (Community Technology Manager with PARL), Krista Anderson (Virtual Care Lead with NS Health), Melissa Marsha (Virtual Care Intern with PARL), Eric Stackhouse (Chief Librarian with PARL).

“With the rapid expansion of virtual care, the project was needed to offset the inequities in digital literacy that impact this type of access point to the health system,” says Michelle Ferris, Executive Director of the Aberdeen Health Foundation. “The project leveraged the individual strengths, interests, and relationships of each of the partners to launch a pilot within just four months, the nature of which has profound implications for delivering greater equity in outcomes and savings to the system.”

Launching the project in four months is a testament to the team’s willingness to join forces, despite not having previously worked together in any capacity. Ferris credits the team’s open mindset for their efficiency. “The orientation of everyone on the team was ‘begin with yes,’” she describes. “They were willing to fully invest themselves from day one, clearing their schedules to make this a priority and leveraging resources from their respective organizations. They understood the health inequities at play and rapidly mobilized around a clear objective of leaving no one behind, creating an accessible onramp to virtual care.”

One hundred and sixty-nine individuals were able to complete their Virtual Care appointments with the assistance of the program, and when asked what their primary reason was for using the library to access services, the most common answer among participants at 83.4% was “I have difficulty knowing how to join by computer, phone or device.” Program participants expressed relief in the fact that they had someone to assist them with Virtual Health Care and that they are not alone.

The team was awarded in the category ‘Disruptive Innovation Initiative within an Organization’. This category honours new innovative interventions that disrupt ‘normal’ work to drive a different outcome focused on a major issue facing healthcare in Canada resulting in fundamental and sustained change within an organization.

“This initiative highlights the importance of comprehensive and diverse partnerships to ensure all Nova Scotians can receive the care they need close to their communities and in accessible locations such as such as libraries,” said Dr. Tara Sampalli, Senior Director, Implementation Science, Evaluation and Global Health Systems Planning at Nova Scotia Health and one of the initiative leads for Virtual Care Nova Scotia. “We are proud of this novel approach, which is not only informing the implementation of similar initiatives in other parts of the province, but also receiving attention across Canada.”

The Virtual Care @ Your Library diverse and comprehensive team consists of Krista Anderson (Virtual Care Team, NS Health), Annie Gillis (Virtual Care Team, NS Health, Retired), Lindsay Sutherland (Primary Health Care, NS Health), Katy MacDonald (Primary Health Care, NS Health), Dr. Caroline King (Health Innovation Hub), Dr. Prosper Koto (Health Innovation Hub), Julia Guk (Health Innovation Hub), Ed Wark (then Communications officer, NS Health), Eric Stackhouse (PARL), Melanie Pauls (PARL), Samantha Zuberovic (PARL), Melissa Marshall (PARL), Catherine Kelly (then Communities Librarian at the NS Provincial Library) and Michelle Ferris (Aberdeen Health Foundation).


The Aberdeen Health Foundation is the leading charity for enhancing health care in Pictou County. In 2023 the Foundation invested over $2 million to fund medical equipment and enhance health programs at the Aberdeen Hospital and in our community.

Michelle Ferris
Executive Director
Aberdeen Health Foundation

902-752-7600 ext. 4442