Sicmaous council, community groups lobby for nurse practitioner

An attempt by the Sicamous Medical Clinic to add a nurse practitioner to their practice is getting support from a number of corners.

An attempt by the Sicamous Medical Clinic to add a nurse practitioner to their practice to improve access to health care for local residents is getting support from a number of corners.

The clinic would need funding from the Ministry of Health to allow for the addition of a nurse practitioner, who were introduced to B.C. in 2005 to fill the gaps caused by a shortage of family doctors.

With their advanced training, nurse practitioners can provide care alongside doctors and other health professionals at a cost that is about half the average income of a family doctor. Such nurses are not replacements for family doctors but they are licensed to diagnose, prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests and treat many of the most common medical conditions.

Nurse practitioners are paid directly by a health authority.

Members of council voted at their Wednesday, Sept. 12 meeting to send a letter of support for the proposal as requested by Pam Beech, from the clinic.

“We all understand the reasons and agree with her (Beech),” says Mayor Darrell Trouton. “We have a number of good doctors in Sicamous, but some are getting older and looking to retire or take a little time off. There needs to be some assistance with keeping medical services in our community, instead of having people driving to Salmon Arm.”

In addition to the support of local politicians, support has come from other community organizations including the Options for Sexual Health program, which operates in Sicamous two evening a month to provide information regarding sex, pregnancy, birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.

“… I am well aware of the overload of work under which our hard-working doctors are practicing to attempt to best serve the diverse needs of our population,” writes Karen Offerman, a registered nurse with Options for Sexual Health. “But it is clear that additional support is necessary for us all here and that the addition of a nurse practitioner to their rural medical clinic would be of the utmost value to this community.”

There is no word on when the ministry will make a determination about whether Sicamous would qualify for nurse practitioner funding.

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