Kelly Rowe is an advocate for the benefit of nurse practitioners in small communities.
The Armstrong councillor relayed a story to her colleagues and to visiting Interior Health (IH) presenters how a family member had some health issues earlier in the year and was “dealing with a lady in Enderby.”
The woman was Enderby’s nurse practitioner, a registered nurse with additional training who has the ability to diagnose, order and prescribe tests for patients.
“We didn’t even know she was a practitioner, even after numerous visits and numerous prescriptions,” said Rowe.
“It came to light that she wasn’t a doctor but in every respect she was. As things progressed, it was nice to know she did consultations with the physicians so she knew she was going down the right road.”
Interior Health health services administrator Nancy Serwo was joined by colleagues Kirstine Hill and Tanya Osborne in giving Armstrong council a 15-minute update on various IH programs, including nurse practitioners (NPs).
Serwo explained that IH currently has just under 30 NPs employed and is in the process of recruiting an additional seven.
There is one NP based in Vernon and one based in Enderby, and another NP to support residential care sites in Armstrong, Enderby and Salmon Arm will begin “in a few weeks.”
“We expect that will continue to grow with our relationship with the ministry of health,” said Serwo of nurse practitioners.
Coun. John Trainor believes NPs would be great in communities such as Armstrong and Enderby where they have a difficult time attracting doctors.
“They would be great for the community because people could see them for the things they’re trying to get in to see the doctor for,” said Trainor.
“Plus it would be cost effective.”
Hill, IH’s community health services administrator, explained that the ministry of health has proposed communities partner with IH so new NP positions can be fulfilled.
IH pays the wages and benefits while communities look after costs such as office space, computers and equipment.
The Sorrento Community Association, in the Shuswap, has recently put forward an NP proposal.
“It’s a rigorous process that a community has to go through, but it is worthwhile looking at NPs,” said Hill.
“You can talk and see if it’s a road you’d like to go down.”