Details scarce, but Capreol NP clinic to get provincial funding boost

The Capreol Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic, the only primary care provider serving the community of about 3,000 people, has learned it will get an increase to its operational budget from the province after not seeing one since it opened its doors in 2012.

However, details of how much the clinic will receive and when those funds will arrive are unknown, says Mike Vidal, the clinic’s administrative lead.

Vidal called the announcement “great news” but said he needs more details — and soon — as the clinic’s new fiscal year starts April 1.

Operational funding will be used to pay rent, utilities and clinical supplies. It cannot be used to hire new nurse practitioners, something the clinic has identified as a top priority moving forward. There are no family physicians or walk-in clinics in Capreol. The closest family physician is located in Hanmer and the doctor there, Dr Nicole Desmarais, is already at full capacity.

The Capreol NP-led team, which consists of nurse practitioners, registered and registered practical nurses, a social worker and a dietitian, serves 3,200 patients in the community and surrounding area, who are predominantly seniors living with multiple comorbidities.

Its executive director, Amanda Rainville, has previously stated in an interview with The Star that despite the clinic not being in a position to accept more patients, there is a waiting list of at least 600 people.

To be able to take in those patients and more, she said the clinic needs about $350,000 to hire four more employees: two more nurse practitioners, one social worker, one registered practical nurse and another administrative staff member.

“We’re getting burnt out and it’s frustrating for our admin staff because patients are coming in and begging for us to take them as patients, but we don’t have the capacity to do so,” Rainville said in an interview earlier this month. “It’s difficult to see the patients we have right now because they are quite complex; so, we can’t take on new ones. And it’s difficult to retain staff when we haven’t had any increases in the last four years and other sectors are paying much higher — at least 15 to 30 per cent higher than what we can pay with our funding.”

Earlier this month, the Ontario Ministry of Health reiterated its commitment to increasing access to primary care across the province. At the time, a spokesperson told The Star that more details would be forthcoming in relation to the situation at the Capreol NP clinic.

“Details regarding our government’s historic expansion of interdisciplinary primary care teams will be available in the coming weeks,” a spokesperson for the ministry said in an email. “As stated in the news release, this expansion in addition to the changes our government has made to add more health care workers to our workforce, including new undergraduate and residency seats at NOSM, with 60% of new seats reserved specifically for family medicine, will ensure 98% of Ontarians have a primary care provider over the next several years – the current percentage is 90%, the highest in Canada.”

Regarding nurse practitioner clinics broadly, the spokesperson said the province has invested nearly $50 million each year to connect hundreds of thousands of Ontarians to primary care through 25 nurse practitioner-led clinics across the province. “Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to adopt this model,” the spokesperson said.

The office of the Ministry of Health contacted The Star to share the news that the Capreol clinic would see an operational funding increase.

“Additionally … our government is investing $20 million in existing interprofessional primary care teams so they can continue to connect people to primary care,” the spokesperson said in an email. “As the Capreol NP clinic is an existing team, they will be receiving a funding boost. More information about that funding will be communicated to the team via their Ontario Health region.”

However, Vidal said that when he contacted his representative from Ontario Health, he couldn’t obtain any additional information about the increase or when it may come.

“We would like to know if the funding will be in place April 1 for the beginning of our fiscal year,” he said.

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, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star