Nurse practitioners delivering community health in West Prince

Maryna Kudryacheva, nurse practitioner, at Alberton Health Centre

A few years back, nurse practitioners (NPs) were a new concept in Prince Edward Island’s health system. Today, a network of NPs in the West Prince region work in collaboration with other health care team members to provide residents in the area with access to timely, personal health care.

Maryna Kudryacheva has been working at the Alberton Health Centre since December 2018. She was educated in Toronto and worked for several years as a registered nurse before attending York University to train as an NP. The move to Western PEI came with major personal changes for her.

“It’s exactly the kind of work I had trained for. In many ways a smaller health centre like this is a perfect place to work as a nurse practitioner. I can work to the full extent of my scope of practice, prescribe medicine, work on complex cases and get to know my patients. That may not have been possible if I was at a major hospital in Toronto. I would probably be in a single ward looking at one kind of case,” she said.

“The community here has been wonderful. They’ve made me and my family very welcome by helping with school registration and advising on work opportunities for my husband. It’s been the right decision for us.”

NPs are registered nurses who have additional training to assess, diagnose and treat common, acute and chronic health conditions. They can order tests, prescribe treatments and medications, and make referrals to other health care professionals.

Dawn Reilly, NP at O’Leary Health Centre said she and her colleagues help to strengthen the local health system and allow other professions to make the most of their valuable time.

“We aren’t replacing doctors, everyone in this profession works along with and in collaboration with physicians,” she said.

“What we do is allow patients to work with someone who can independently assess them and make decisions about their care. It makes a difference. There’s just a lot of work to be done by the health care providers up here.”

Gerri Lynn Henderson, NP for West Prince long term care, said she also trained to be an NP as an extension of her career as a registered nurse. She specializes in working with long-term care residents for the region’s manors and also provides care to patients in the hospital setting who are awaiting placement to long term care.

“I’m the primary provider that most of these folks have so I can give them continuity, check their progress or review their medications. Sometimes people coming into care will have a lot of medications that may not all be needed,” she said. “It can be an important part of making sure they get the care that’s most appropriate.”

Amanda Rideout, NP at the O’Leary Health Centre, moved to the Island in the fall of 2018 after completing her training in Newfoundland.

“A big part of what attracted me here was the chance to do my work in a primary care setting,” she said. “Our clients know us and look to us as someone who can work with them on a very wide range of health issues.

NPs have been major components of health care in West Prince since 2013.

“Nurse Practitioners are providing important connections here. They fill an important role by providing holistic care to patients and examining all aspects that may affect the health of an individual. NPs are key to enhancing access, particularly in a region where we have sometimes had problems filling physician vacancies,” said Christina Phillips, manager, West Prince Primary Care.

“NPs provide a different sort of service too. They work very well in a collaborative health environment with other professionals like dietitians and social workers, and other health care teams, such as home care and public health.”

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