Dr. Frances Moriarty and her colleagues at the Pleasant Street Medical Group in Dartmouth always thought a family practice nurse would be a benefit to their team, but there was always the issue of how to pay for that person.
That concern was recently taken off the table when the site was approved for funding from the Nova Scotia Health Authority for a family practice nurse. Heather White, the nurse who joined the practice recently, is able to see patients who don't have pressing needs and she's also able to do home visits.
Moriarty said the way White is being incorporated into the practice is based on what would best help serve their patients.
"Because we've all been in practice a long time, a lot of our patients are elderly," said Moriarty.
"Transportation is an issue, mobility is an issue and when you see somebody struggling to get into your office who can hardly walk, it makes you think that there should be a better way to deliver care."
With White's services, doctors will now be able to make house calls when they could be of benefit to their patients.
39 professionals for 23 sites
Pleasant Street was one of 23 locations to receive new professionals announced Thursday by Health Minister Randy Delorey.
Pleasant Street and another Dartmouth site as well as two in Kentville are each getting a nurse practitioner and family practice nurse. Two sites in North Sydney will share a nurse practitioner, three family practice nurses and a social worker, and a new site in Glace Bay will receive a nurse practitioner, family practice nurse and social worker.
Existing collaborative care clinics in Dartmouth, Springhill, Westville, Lunenburg, Windsor and two in Sydney will also receive funding for additional nurse practitioners, family practice nurses, a social worker and other professionals.
The funding announcement also provides additional staff for sites in Chester, Liverpool, Kingston, Musquodoboit Valley, Pictou, Parrsboro, Hatchet Lake, New Glasgow and Sydney that would otherwise have possibly been looking at reducing patient services.
Moriarty said future considerations were part of why the Pleasant Street team wanted to go the collaborative route. All of the doctors at the site, who collectively have 10,000 patients, are approaching retirement.
"The reality is that we could actually all end up leaving all at once," she said.
Trying to care for patients' futures
"One of our concerns is the ongoing care of our patients and how do we attract new doctors to come to our practice. We've been trying to recruit for five, six, seven years very unsuccessfully."
Moriarty said it's become clear most new doctors want to work in a collaborative practice, and so getting one established at Pleasant Street is the best way to try to make sure their patients are taken care of in the future.
About half of the 39 positions announced Thursday are in place and working, Delorey said. The government said with the seven new collaborative care clinics announced Thursday, there are now 57 operating in the province.