TORONTO, Feb. 20, 2009
– The people of Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Belle River will soon have better access to primary care thanks to today’s announcement by the provincial government to fund Nurse Practitioner-led (NP) clinics in these communities.
“Nurse practitioners and all nurses take pride in this important achievement,” says Wendy Fucile, President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). “These clinics will allow NPs and their interprofessional teams to work to their full potential and provide people with the timely and high-quality primary care services they need and deserve.”
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education and decision-making skills in assessment, diagnosis and health-care management. They have legislative authority to treat common illnesses and injuries, prescribe medications, and order lab tests, X-rays and other diagnostic tests. They also focus on health promotion and disease prevention.
“We are thrilled that access to primary care is being expanded,” says Pam Pogue, Immediate Past President of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario, a member group of RNAO. “Primary care is an important area where nurse practitioners are making a huge contribution to the public and our health system. NPs are also reducing wait times for people in emergency departments, preventing unnecessary transfers of elderly residents from long-term care homes to hospitals, and helping patients manage their chronic illnesses.”
The clinics will be modeled on the first NP-led clinic that opened in Sudbury in 2007, which is already providing care to more than 2,000 residents who had no access to primary care until the clinic began seeing patients.
“The real winners of today’s announcement are the people who will soon be able to benefit from the expertise of nurse practitioners,” says RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun, praising the McGuinty government for today’s news and for its commitment to fund an additional 22 clinics. “This government understands that communities across Ontario are in dire need of more primary care providers and it knows that NP-led clinics are part of the solution. The time to act is now.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.