© Guardian photo by Jim Day
Gayle MacLean of Wheatley River, left, is sold on the value of nurse practitioners like Melinda Ells, who works at the Central Queens Family Health Centre in Hunter River. "I think everyone should have access to them,'' said MacLean.
Six new nurse practitioners have been recruited to P.E.I. and will soon start seeing patients in locations across the province.
Health Minister Doug Currie says the addition of these new health professionals will help Islanders have better access to primary care.
“The whole focus here is to embrace the high rising reality of chronic disease in the province,” Currie said.
“The nurse practitioner is a highly skilled, trained professional that can intervene and provide chronic disease management intervention support to Islanders that may not need to see a doctor.”
There are currently five nurse practitioners in P.E.I. The newest recruits will bring that total up to 11.
Three of the incoming nurse practitioners (NPs) are graduates from the new Masters of Nursing Program at UPEI.
They, along with the other three NPs set to begin work sometime between now and early November, will be working in collaboration with family physicians in locations across P.E.I.
Two will go to West Prince, based out of O’Leary but providing services in Tignish, Alberton and Tyne Valley. One will be at the Harbourside Medical Centre in East Prince. Two will be based in Queens, at the Sherwood Medical Centre and the Boardwalk Professional Centre. One will also be service the Montague/Murray River areas of Kings County.
Currie said the province has expanded the role of nurse practitioners to allow them to work to their full scope of practice.
This will help to reduce wait times for health services and offer greater options for patients needing care.
“This will help us to continue to provide more balance and support to physicians who may be in areas of the province who are under a lot of stress because of their volumes,” Currie said.
“The whole function here is to make sure that we manage our chronic disease and support and manage Islanders with chronic disease to keep them out of emergency rooms, keep them out of hospital beds.”
Currie also stressed the addition of these nurse practitioners has not slowed the province’s physician recruitment efforts. Recruitment is also ongoing for more nurse practitioners for P.E.I.