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County will support Wellington Rotary plan to get satellite nurse practitioner clinic

The municipality will seek ways it can support the Rotary Club of Wellington to further its plan to get a nurse practitioner office in the village – a satellite of the Belleville clinic.

The club mostly wants council’s “emphatic support” with advocacy with the province as the plan proceeds, stated Rotarian David MacKinnon in a deputation to council Tuesday night. “And that the matter be addressed as a public health emergency here affecting 8-9,000 people” (who are without doctors).

Nurse practitioners at the Belleville clinic, he added, see about 900 people each. “So looking after some 1,800 people here to start, is a good beginning to solve a long term problem. The model is cost-effective and could be expanded, but for now, two nurse practitioners here would be a good beginning.”

“We would like your endorsement in the form of a resolution by council and a decision to treat any funding request (if necessary) that may be made in the same way that you provide funding for physician recruitment.”

The proposal for a satellite clinic must be submitted to the provincial government by the Belleville Nurse Practitioner Led Clinic (NPLC), which MacKinnon states is “excited and supportive” about Rotary’s plan.

The Wellington Rotary, with its wealth of members with health-care experience, has provided seed funding to help generate a plan. An independent contractor has been hired to prepare a submission to the province.

“This work is now well advanced,” states MacKinnon. “There is under utilized space at the existing Sandbanks Medical Clinic in Wellington, enough to accommodate two nurse practitioners and an additional nurse. The leader of the Belleville NPLC has visited this facility and feels that it is a suitable locations.”

MacKinnon notes one of the current owners of the facility, Dr. Blair Scrivens, a member of the Prince Edward Family Health Team, “is very supportive and recognizes the potential for collaboration between his practice and the new proposed satellite office.”

The club, he said, has also brief MPP Todd Smith and based on advice from the Belleville NPLC, “we expect a call from the province in the coming weeks for proposals for the new fund recently announced to support interdisciplinary practice.”

The government recently announced 150 new training spots for nurse practitioners, and “For the present, we expect to be able to recruit nurse practitioners provided two conditions are met: that employment is secure and that nurse practitioners are located in a clinic where they can utilize their full scope of practice independently.”

Efforts to recruit both physicians and nurse practitioners across the province are extensive and competitors have deep pockets for both, he added.

“Our submission will need to be completed very soon so that we can be at the front of the line when the call for proposals is made,” said MacKinnon. “We are working to very aggressive deadlines to make this possible.

He stressed nurse practitioners are paid directly by the province and accordingly, financial contributions from the municipality are not likely or will be very modest if there are any at all.

“In the unlikely event that some municipal funds are needed, we hope that the proposed satellite clinic would be treated by the municipality in the same way it treats physician recruitment efforts. They are different approaches to the same problem.”

MacKinnon adds there are 25 independently-led nurse practitioner clinics in Ontario. Nurse practitioners in these clinics can prescribe and requisition tests as family physicians do. That, he noted, is not always made clear to people.

The club also wants to the municipality to remind the province the County’s need for primary care is of great urgency.

More than 200 people met in January to hear an update on physician recruitment efforts in Prince Edward County, during a meeting at the Royal Canadian Legion in Wellington. – Sharon Harrison file photo

On Dec. 21 when the club submitted its conceptual proposal for a clinic, there were about 5,000 people without a doctor. Due to moves, planned retirement and the death of a physician, it is now estimated there could be 8-9,000 patients, or about one-third of the population – without a doctor.

“We think this is an emergency that threatens the health and safety of County residents,” said MacKinnon. The second problem is the unsustainability of the health care system locally, provincially and nationally. We simply cannot continue to do the same things over and over again and expect good results.”

Wellington Rotary President Dawn Cutler noted that as well as raising more than $400,000 in support of the Back the Build campaign for the new hospital in Picton, the Wellington Rotary Club and also raised substantial additional funds for equipment.

“We also have members with deep experience in health care. Each is a member of our health and wellness committee,” she adds. Cutler is manager of the dialysis clinic at PECMH, has managed a nursing home and has served on the Governing Council of the Ontario College of Nurses.

Rotary members with experience also include:
Dr. Yvonne Buys, a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto. She has published extensively on matters relating to health care delivery.
Dr. Chris Compeau is both a general surgeon and a thoracic surgeon and has substantial practice and administrative experience at St. Joseph’s Health Center in Toronto.
Ken Robertson, club president, was the police chief in Hamilton and served as vice-chair of Hamilton Health Sciences, one of Ontario’s major teaching hospitals.
David Smith led the fundraising efforts for the PECMH and brings his financial and accounting skills.
MacKinnon served as Chair of two hospital boards: Quinte Health and West Park in Toronto. He also served as President of the Ontario Hospital Association and as a member of the Governing Council of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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