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Province announces new nurse practitioner at Westville Medical Clinic

Nova Scotia Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine, right, announces a new nurse practitioner at the Westville Medical Clinic, one of new 23 nurses offering primary care in the province. Also pictured is nurse practitioner Marla MacDonald, left, and Dr. Aaron Smith.
Nova Scotia Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine, right, announces a new nurse practitioner at the Westville Medical Clinic, one of new 23 nurses offering primary care in the province. Also pictured is nurse practitioner Marla MacDonald, left, and Dr. Aaron Smith.

WESTVILLE – Up to 800 people in Pictou County without doctors will have access to primary care with the addition of a nurse practitioner at the Westville Medical Clinic.

The province announced 23 new nurses in 12 communities, one of which is in Westville with Marla MacDonald joining the local clinic’s collaborative care team.

“We’ve known for many, many years primary care is the foundation of our health care system. We need hospitals and acute care and lots and lots of services, but the foundation that we all need (is) good, strong, primary care,” said Tricia Cochrane, vice-president with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

MacDonald, who is from the area, has already started her position and will begin taking patients in the near future.

She said she is excited to work in the practice and to work with new patients. MacDonald also spoke about the care her patients will receive.

“What that means, the collaboration, is that if I feel a patient’s situation is beyond my scope of practice, I can go to any one of these physicians (at the clinic) and we can figure out a plan together so I can provide the most appropriate care to that patient,” MacDonald said.   

Her new patients will come from the province’s wait list and people registered through the health authority will be contacted gradually.

Dr. Aaron Smith with the clinic said there isn’t an exact timeline set out, but they want to get to a full roster of patients as quick as possible.

“It’s not something any of us want to drag out. She wants to get working. We know the need in the community,” said Smith.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says 1,600 people in Pictou County are currently registered as being in need of a provider through 811 or their website: needafamilypractice.nshealth.ca.

The government is investing $3.6 million for the new full-time and part-time positions, which includes 13 nurse practitioners and 10 family practice nurses.

For the province as a whole, it means 14,000 more people will have access to primary care. Recent numbers released by Statistics Canada suggest there were more than 100,000 people without doctors in the province in 2015.

Minister of Health and Wellness Leo Glavine said the province is anticipating all Nova Scotians will have access to primary care within two or three years.

Glavine spoke about recruitment efforts following the announcement in Westville Wednesday, stating it’s been a good year.

“We’ve got a strong interest now coming out of the (United Kingdom). We will have a full team for recruitment in early fall going to the U.K. and the college is working with immigration to have that process occur as quickly as possible. We’re no longer sitting and waiting for doctors to come to Nova Scotia and be part of a practice. We’re recruiting very, very aggressively.”

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