Stronger Health-care Teams Across Nova Scotia

 Health and Wellness

September 28, 2016 1:16 PM

Fourteen thousand more Nova Scotians will have access to primary care, thanks to the addition of 22 new nursing positions across the province.

Government is giving Nova Scotia Health Authority an extra $3.6 million to hire 13 more nurse practitioners and nine family practice nurses. The mix of professionals may change, depending on community needs and the recruitment process.

These health professionals will join collaborative care practices where they will complement the work of doctors and other practitioners. Together under one roof, they will deliver high quality, appropriate care, when patients need it most.

“Government believes collaborative care is the future of health care in this province. We want Nova Scotians to be able to get the care they need, when they need it,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

In the province’s central health zone, seven new professionals will serve patients in the communities identified as most in need, throughout Halifax Regional Municipality, the Sheet Harbour area and West Hants (Windsor and area).

Adding nurse practitioners and family practice nurses means more than 4,800 more people in the central health zone will be able to join a collaborative health care practice.

“Today’s announcement is just one more step toward that vision, and it won’t be the last,” said Premier McNeil.

Physician recruitment remains a priority, and work is ongoing. Expanding collaborative care teams enhances Nova Scotia’s ability to attract new physicians.

In the coming weeks the health authority will issue an expression of interest in some communities, for family practices interested in hosting nurse practitioners or family practice nurses. Once that is complete, it will post the new positions.

“A strong primary health-care system is the foundation of our health-care system. Having regular access to a health home is important for our health and wellness and that’s why today’s announcement for more nurse practitioners and family practice nurses is very welcome news,” said Tricia Cochrane, vice-president of primary health care, Nova Scotia Health Authority. “This is an important investment for the health and wellness of Nova Scotians.”

Nurse practitioners take advanced training that prepares them to diagnose and manage illnesses, order and interpret tests, and prescribe medications, among other things.

Family practice nurses are registered nurses who can independently assess, plan and co-ordinate care, make referrals, and evaluate how people are responding to treatment.

“Adding nurse practitioners to health-care teams allows them to accept new patients and shortens wait times. Nurse practitioners can also help patients manage chronic disease, learn to live healthier and avoid injury,” said Carolyn Mitchell, a nurse practitioner working at the Community Health and Wellness Centre in North Preston.

“It allows practices to offer a broader range of services, which is better for patients and for team members – a win-win all around.”

New patients will be added to the clinics as the nurse practitioners and family practice nurses are hired.

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