Nexus Primary Care Clinic, the first nurse practitioner primary care clinic on Vancouver Island, opened in late June in south Nanaimo. (News Bulletin photo)

Nanaimo sees Island’s first nurse practitioner primary care clinic

Nexus Primary Care Clinic opened in late June in south end

The province says it hasn’t made the most of nurse practitioners in B.C.’s health-care system, but that’s changing in Nanaimo.

Nexus Primary Care Clinic, the first nurse practitioner primary care clinic on Vancouver Island, opened in late June in south Nanaimo. Island Health is partnering with the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of B.C. to provide long-term primary care, noted a press release from the B.C. Ministry of Health.

Nurse practitioners at the clinic will be able to work with patients “across a person’s life span,” diagnosing and treating illness, ordering tests, prescribing medications and performing procedures.

“Our priority is to find new, innovative ways of working, co-ordinating services and delivering care so that British Columbians don’t have to wait so long, travel so far and search so hard for the care they need,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, in the release. “Nurse practitioners are a viable, patient-centred solution to improving access, but we know that compared to other jurisdictions, B.C. has not made the best use of nurse practitioners … These clinics will connect more people with the care they need, when they need it most.”

The release expressed intention around “attaching” about 6,800 people to a primary-care provider at the clinic over the next three years.

Nexus opened with two full-time nurse practitioners but the release said by the end of the summer, the clinic will have four more nurse practitioners, two registered nurses, a social worker and mental-health clinicians.

Michael Sandler, executive director of the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of B.C., said in the release that “we are thrilled” about the clinic’s opening.

“We applaud this approach to team-based care that taps into the expertise of nurse practitioners as primary care providers as well as all health-care staff,” he said. “This clinic is key to ensuring B.C. families can access timely health-care services when they need them.”

The B.C. government is providing an approximately $2-million operating budget, as well as approximately $495,000 as a one-time cost, said the release.

The ministry says establishing nurse practitioner-led clinics ties to its 2018 announcement that 200 nurse practitioner positions in primary care settings would be coming to B.C.

RELATED: B.C. invests $115 million to create 200 new nurse practitioner jobs

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