Through this program, they became Nurse Practitioners in Primary
Health Care (NP-PHC), professionals who care for patients from
birth until death. Their main job is to maintain optimal primary
health care at the Rufus Guinchard Health Center in Port Saunders
and ensure that the health care offered in the community is accessible
to the public.
Over the last two years, the center has not been accessible
to the public primarily due to the lack of doctors. During August,
80% of the time patients could not schedule an appointment with
a physician at the facility and doctors were available for urgent
Both Critchley and House hope to solve this problem through
making the hospital more stable. When patients request an appointment,
they will have the option of being seen by either a physician
or nurse practitioner. Nurse Practitioners will also do triage,
which means they will assess the patients condition and either
treat them or refer them to the physician.
These practitioners will encourage the public to participate
in the planning and the organization of their health care. They
will encourage health promotion and illness prevention through
health education, immunizations, and lifestyle counselling. And
they will work with the community health nurse to provide better
They will also try to maintain adequate technology in the
Port Saunders facility such as lab and x-ray services and effective
Nurse Practitioner assistance.
"We are hoping that in this technology, we will be able
to provide a better service that has not been able to be accessed
in this facility over the past two years," says Critchley.
As nurses, House and Critchley could do an assessment of a
patient and a physical exam. However, they were not authorized
to notify the patients of their illness, order any diagnostic
tests, or to treat your illness by prescription or any other
means. As Nurse Practitioners they are now authorized to do so.
However, they do have guidelines and rules that they must
follow. They can treat only minor illness including; sore throat,
arthritis, chest infection. Chronic conditions must be treated
by a doctor. However, they may follow up and prescribe medication
as long as the original assessment and prescription was done
by a physician within a year.
Under the new system, chronic care patients would be required
to only consult with only one person, the Nurse Practitioner
instead of a number of changing doctors. The pactitioners will
act as a link between the physicians and the patients
"I think this is what makes it so hard on people trying
to watch out their health care because they think that nobody
cares because nobody is following them up," says House.
The practitioners plan to begin seven-day a week service on
a trial basis, with each of them working shifts at the center.
"If it meets the people's needs, it will continue that
way, if not it will be changed around it about two months time,"
says Critchley. They will also be on support call, which means
that if there is no physician on call, the practitioners will
provide that service.
The nurse practitioners are also responsible for the 22 long-term
care patients at the facility. They will complete the patients'
annual physical exams, tend to them when they are sick and re-order
The nurse practitioners say they will be updating their knowledge
regularly since the are always new procedures, new drugs and
new therapies that with have to be learned to keep up with their