Forced to close last year due to lack of provincial funding, two nurse practitioner-led medical clinics in London, along with a third location at Merrymount Children’s Centre, will re-open to once again assist thousands of local residents in need of clinical and social services.
The Health Zone clinics will focus on comprehensive primary care services including managing chronic conditions, preventing disease and health promotion.
Created through the Office of Interprofessional Health Education and Research at Western, the community clinics – modeled after the Merrymount program – engage community members, health care students and practitioners in working towards a common goal.
The clinics not only benefit local residents – with more than 1,400 patient visits in the program initial 10 month run – students in health programs at Western wishing to pursue interprofessional collaborative practice receive tremendous opportunities.
Carole Orchard, Western Associate Professor & Coordinator of Interprofessional Education Initiatives.
As a clinical practice component of health programs, the students provide nursing, social work, speech-language pathology, medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nutrition services.
“This news is a true cause for celebration,” says Carole Orchard, Associate Professor & Coordinator of Interprofessional Education Initiatives at Western. “We will provide primarily health care services for many London families, in particular single parent families, who face barriers such as poverty, lack of transportation, mistrust of service providers and language barriers”
She adds a full range of clinical services and programs will be provided with the aim of preventing health problems through proper health promotion, such as assistance in accessing other services within the community.
Orchard adds the clinics will “provide health services while educating future health practitioners and conducting research to enhance better practices and care delivery.”
Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, was in London to make the announcement of the local clinics, one of 14 such announcements made across the province today.
“Nurse practitioner-led clinics are becoming an integral part of health care in Ontario,” says Matthews. “This investment means more access to quality health care closer to home for Ontarians.”
The nurse practitioner-led clinics will offer a team-based approach to frontline health care. Nurse practitioners – who will work with doctors, nurses and other health care providers at the clinics – are able to treat common illnesses and injuries, order lab tests, X-rays and other diagnostic tests.
Over the 10 months of the initial project, the three clinics reduced residents’ trips to London emergency rooms by 50 per cent.