“It’s true, we do have a temporary shortage of nurse practitioners at the North Shore Primary Care Centre,” Thibault tells CFJC Today. “We know that’s frustrating for patients but what we can say is recruitment is going full and strong, we anticipate it to be temporary, and our number one priority is the patients attached to the clinic.”
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Thibault says the existing nurse practitioners and family physicians are taking on as much of the patients left without a provider as possible.
“We have shortages in many medical professions across British Columbia, and nurse practitioners are definitely one of them,” she says. “There’s a lot of opportunities in British Columbia and the country for nurse practitioners. Five years ago we had very little opportunity and now we have more opportunities than currently bodies — however we are getting interest, and the good news is just recently in the last few months we’ve successfully recruited for one of the two senior nurse practitioners at Northills Care Centre at Northills Mall.”
Recruitment for nurse practitioners and locums in Kamloops is in full force, Thibault says, adding that Interior Health is trying to mitigate the impact on patients in the meantime.
The North Shore Primary Care Centre first opened in February 2017, which helped connect patients to a primary care provider — whether it was a nurse practitioner or family doctor. People who phoned the HealthLink BC 811 number could put their name on a wait list to be matched with a primary care provider.
Last month, the Ministry of Health told CFJC Today that as of the end of March 2019, more than 9,300 patients had been connected with a primary care provider in Kamloops.
This shortage, Thibault says, is due in part to some practitioners either leaving their facility or leaving the community.
“Some are going to the hospital, we have had one, which is actually good news. It’s staying within our own community, and others we’ve known that are going north,” Thibault says. “There are opportunities in northern British Columbia… or north like Nunavut.
“The good news is some of the nurse practitioners go up north, they come back and we have lots still interested in helping out as locums in our clinics, and we are welcoming them. In addition, we have locums coming from other communities, helping us out, and we have the Division (of Family Practice) helping us out with recruiting family physician locums as well. So we are looking at all options.”
Thibault says officials are currently working out how many patients at the North Shore Primary Care Centre won’t have a key provider. Those who have lost their provider will remain a patient at the clinic and when practitioners are recruited, they’ll be contacted again.
“If they’re still interested and not attached elsewhere then they would be able to come back and take their name off that list.”
Thibault says the two walk-in clinics in the city and the Urgent Primary Care Centre below Royal Inland Hospital should be utilized by provider-less patients.