The health-care system for south shore residents appears to be slowly but surely starting to recover.
The South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. committee announced a nurse practioner (NP) has begun practicing in Crapaud three days a week and is anticipating that it will soon be a full-time role.
The NP, Jennifer Wood, started on June 24 and is there Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
“The feedback we’ve been getting from everyone who has seen her is that she’s great,” said Ian Dennison, co-chairman of the committee and mayor of the nearby Victoria-By-The-Sea.
Lisa Gallant, a committee member and owner of the South Shore Pharmacy where the clinic is located, said having the NP has been going well.
While walk-in clinics have been operating out of the centre for the 2,300 former patients of Dr. Henk Visser, the NP helps fill a demand for appointments and follow-ups.
“Definitely a need is being met, and I’m really happy to see everyone is happy and the nurse practitioner is wonderful,” said Gallant.
However, there has also been a downside.
Gallant and Dennison said the province previously approved two NPs to operate in the clinic. One of those has since been allocated to Cornwall.
“Which doesn’t make sense. That’s not where the community being served wants the nurse practitioner,” said Gallant. “So there’s still some work to be done.”
“I’m quite confident South Shore Health and Wellness knows the will and desire of the people and the patient population. We know what they want – and that is primary care in Crapaud."
Gallant pointed to a survey sent to patients that saw 90 per cent of respondents indicate they wanted access to primary care in Crapaud. Two petitions calling for a restoration of health care to the area have been presented in the P.E.I. legislature during the last several years.
That’s been in addition to public meetings and consultations between the committee and residents.
“I’m quite confident South Shore Health and Wellness knows the will and desire of the people and the patient population. We know what they want – and that is primary care in Crapaud,” said Gallant.
The majority of Visser’s patients live in the Crapaud area and towards Albany. A minority of patients, only about 10 per cent according to Dennison, were from the Cornwall area. In addition, many patients are seniors who cannot travel for long distances.
Visser retired in 2017, and his practice was taken over by Dr. Joey Giordani, who left the area shortly after, which resulted in about 2,300 patients losing their family physician.
Dennison noted that Visser’s patient load was much higher than the typical 1,200 to 1,500 patients many physicians with a new practice would typically see.
In addition, Dennison said NPs generally handle a smaller patient load of 500 to 800.
While the walk-in clinics will continue to operate at the centre, the group is hoping to eventually have a physician working at the centre.
“That’s what we’re working towards and we’ll keep plugging away at it and talking to everybody in the province and with Health P.E.I.,” said Dennison, adding the committee is scheduled to meet with the province’s new health minister and local MLA Jamie Fox later this month.