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Medical clinic opens

Nurse practitioner starts booking patients
by Paula Levy


Nancy MacDonald - Nurse practitioner
 CHESTER - South Shore Health (SSH) opened the primary health-care clinic in Chester this week.

 Nurse practitioner Nancy MacDonald started booking appointments on January 5. Ms MacDonald said the doors are open to patients from Chester and the surrounding area who currently do not have a family doctor.

 "I'm going to start off initially taking patients who do not have a family physician," Ms MacDonald said in an interview. "That's how we decided to open it up because there are family physicians in the community and we don't want to have a disruption in care. Patients who have a family doctor should stay with them."

 The health district intends for the nurse practitioner to work with a family physician, but that role is currently unfilled. Until a physician is recruited to work at the practice with the nurse practitioner, Ms MacDonald will refer patients who are out of her scope of practice to Dr. Karen Cox.

 A nurse practitioner can, however, diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe certain medications and perform minor procedures.

 A nurse practitioner can also refer patients to medical specialists and other health-care professionals such as physiotherapists, dietitians and mental health resources. They are also qualified to do Pap smears and breast exams, as well as well-baby checkups.

 Another important role of a nurse practitioner is to monitor chronic illness, such as diabetes, and reorder medications.

 "We can manage people basically until things become unstable or complex," said Ms MacDonald. "That's when we bring in a physician."

 When patients become unstable, Ms MacDonald will refer them to Dr. Cox. But they will remain a patient of the new clinic.

 SSH chief executive officer Kevin McNamara said having a collaborative practice will support the district's efforts to improve access to care, respond to the needs of the community and recruit family physicians.

 The district currently has nurse practitioners working in North Queens and Lunenburg, and recently received approval to hire nurse practitioners to work in the New Germany and Area Medical Centre and the Lunenburg Medical Centre.

 The clinic will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. To book an appointment, call 275-5268.

 Ms MacDonald added she is excited to be in the Chester area to fill the gap many Chester-area patients are experiencing as a result of the lack of family physicians.



posted on 01/06/09
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