New Crapaud nurse practitioner helps keep health care close to home

Health-care advocates in Crapaud are calling the hiring of a new nurse practitioner in the area a good first step.

Nurse practitioner will work 3 days a week, eventually moving to a full-time role

Nurse practitioner Jennifer Wood began seeing patients on Monday in Crapaud. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Health-care advocates in Crapaud are calling the hiring of a new nurse practitioner in the area a good first step.

Jennifer Wood, hired by Health PEI, started this week, and is handling some of the more than 2,300 patients in the area who are still without a family doctor.

"We are really happy about that," said Lisa Gallant, of the South Shore Health and Wellness Committee and owner of the pharmacy in which the medical clinic is located.

"We probably get 20 phone calls at the pharmacy every day, people worried about a follow up of chronic conditions, where can they go to be seen, who's monitoring their blood work, where did their X-rays go, where did their MRI go? People are very anxious about having no one to follow their chronic medical conditions."

The nurse practitioner will only be seeing former patients of Dr. Joey Giordani, who used to work in Crapaud but left.

Files will be kept on each patient and follow-up appointments will be scheduled when needed.

George Nicholson, 91, had always had a family doctor until a year ago. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"It's a relief," said 91-year-old Crapaud resident George Nicholson. "The fact that you can make an appointment and come and not have to sit here for two hours, that means an awful lot to somebody my age."

Walk-in clinics will also continue to operate four times a week for several hundred other residents in the South Shore area who have no primary care provider.

For local resident Sarah MacQuarrie, having a nurse practitioner in the community is reassuring.

'Care that's been missing'

"You know, it's different to go to a place where nobody knows anything about you at all," she said. "If you trust somebody, if you trust the system, it's part of the solution and it's a solution we're looking for."

The nurse practitioner is working three days a week to start, and will eventually work full time. She'll stay in that role until a physician is recruited for the area, according to Health PEI.

The South Shore Health and Wellness Committee said they need one more nurse practitioner and a physician to fill the gaps.

Nurse practitioner Jennifer Wood is working out of the pharmacy in Crapaud three days a week to start, and will eventually work full time. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"This is going to go a long way in addressing a lot of the health-care issues that have not been properly looked after in the last 18 months just because of the nature of a walk-in clinic," Gallant said.

"Obviously not everyone's going to be able to be seen by one nurse practitioner, but certainly her services will go a long way in providing that continuity of care that's been missing."

The wellness committee said it will meet with the health minister next month to discuss next steps.

Another nurse practitioner has been hired to work in Cornwall, P.E.I., to see patients of Dr. Giordani. That nurse practitioner will work in Cornwall until a physician is hired, according to Health PEI.

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