The head of Ontario's registered nurses says the Ministry of Health’s decision to not fund additional staff at the Lakehead Nurse Practitioner-Led clinic is short-sighted.
"There is no reason to wait when the Lakehead clinic actually has a wait list of people that would like to join", said Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.
"You have a clinic ... that has the infrastructure and the equipment ready to go for two additional nurse practitioners ... And not to use that infrastructure is simply a mis-utilization of financial resources."
The clinic — which reached its capacity a year ago and has a waiting list of over 300 patients — was hoping the funding would enable it to hire more nurse-practitioners and open up 1,500 spots for patients.
Another clinic still accepting patients
But the funding will not be coming because another nurse practitioner clinic in Thunder Bay is still accepting new patients.
The Anishnawbe Mushkiki Nurse Practitioner Clinic — which specializes in patients with chronic medical conditions — confirms it is accepting new patients.
Lead nurse practitioner Deborah McGoldrick said it wasn't admitting as many new patients as normal after flooding last May, but is now fully operational. She emphasized the clinic welcomes both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients.
However, it takes longer for the clinic to accept new patients because it specializes in patients with chronic diseases — such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis, hypertension — and they require lengthy assessments.
Even though the other nurse practitioner clinic is still accepting patients, there's no way it can take on everyone who needs care, Grinspun said.
Lakehead clinic administrator Kyle Jessiman agreed.
"When there's this many patients who have no provider to go to, I don't agree with the justification saying, 'well they [the Anishnawbe Mushkiki Nurse Practitioner clinic] have space so we don't need more NPs.
Jessiman said he hopes the Ministry will reconsider its decision.