Originally published in the Sault Star.
Nurse practitioner clinic registration starts Monday
The Sault Star , Thu Sep 8 2011 , Page: A3 , Section: News
Byline: MICHAEL PURVIS, THE SAULT STAR
A long-awaited nurse-practitioner-led clinic at Sault College will begin taking in the city's orphaned patients next week.
Two classrooms in the college's L wing were converted to make way for the roughly 2,800-square-foot Algoma Nurse Practitioner Led Clinic, which has been in the works for more than three years. It is scheduled to open in October.
Debbie Graystone, president of the clinic's board of directors, said she expects "many, many," people to take advantage of registration, which starts Monday.
"It will be a family practice environment staffed by nurse practitioners and other disciplines to provide a comprehensive patient-focused care," said Graystone.
Sudbury opened Canada's first nurse practitioner-led clinic in 2007. The following spring, then Health Minister George Smitherman made an informal announcement the Sault would follow, but it wasn't until October 2008 that an application process was set up. The clinic was approved in February 2009, along with 24 others across Ontario.
As recently as March, the Algoma clinic was expected to open in the summer, but Graystone said the opening will wait until October, partly because provincial funding did not arrive until July. She said the required renovations at Sault College were also "significant."
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education and decision-making skills in assessment, diagnosis and health care management. They will work alongside other health professionals, which at this clinic is to include a pharmacist, regi s t e re d nurses, registered practical nurses and a social worker, some of them parttime. The clinic is for residents of Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area who are unattached to a primary care provider.
Graystone said patients will be well covered. Nurse practitioners still can't order certain tests or medications that a family doctor could, but she said a physician will be available to the nurses at the Sault clinic for consultation in those cases.
"For instance, right now a nurse-practitioner can't order a CAT scan, but we will have a physician who is available who will order for us so there won't be any gap in care for patients," said Graystone.
The clinic has funding for four nurse practitioners, each of whom can take 800 patients. Graystone said one nurse practitioner has been hired and the clinic is in the process of hiring three more.
Once fully staffed and operational, the clinic will have a capacity to take on 3,200 patients. The clinic will not operate a walk-in service.
Those hoping to register can do so starting on Monday. The first registration runs until Sept. 23.
Patients can register online or via forms, which will be available at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library's main branch starting on Monday as well.
The clinic's website www.algomanplc.ca is not yet working, but will go live on Monday.
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