Fredericton residents finally have another option to see a health-care provider without needing to go to the emergency room or drive to other communities to try to get care.
Horizon’s Downtown Community Health Center now has 25 appointments a week available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. People who wish to see one of the clinic’s nurse practitioners can call to book an appointment, starting at 10 am on those days.
Thousands of Fredericton residents without a primary care provider have limited options. This is the only such clinic on the city’s south side. The other option is a private clinic in Marysville on the city’s north side.
Trish Murray, primary health care director for the Fredericton and Upper River Valley region, said the clinic employs six nurse practitioners, both part time and full time.
Murray said adding more staff in January has allowed them to take on more than just referrals and after finalizing how many people the nurse practitioner can see, phone lines were opened last week.
“It went very well and by Thursday we were seeing all of our appointments filled, which is what we what we want to see,” she told Information Morning Fredericton. “This is something we expect to be permanent.”
Murray said he expects the number of appointments to double by summer.
The process of getting an appointment is similar to other walk-in clinics, where patients must call at 10:00 am and continue calling until they can get through. Murray said a recorded message will let callers know once all appointments are filled for the day. She said staff would still compile a short wait list in case of cancellations.
Murray said online appointments are still available through eVisitNB and people can also call 811, which is staffed by health-care workers who can refer patients to the appropriate place.
Who is eligible?
A licensed practical nurse will answer incoming calls and screen callers for eligibility, Murray said.
Appointments are reserved for people with no primary care provider, or people who do have one but the wait for an appointment is unreasonable.
Nurse practitioners can see patients with issues that are urgent, but not so urgent that they’re life threatening, such as urinary tract infections, sprains and respiratory infections, she said.
They can prescribe drugs and immunizations and order imaging and lab tests. According to the Nurses Association of New Brunswick, the only drugs nurse practitioners can’t prescribe are anabolic steroids (excluding testosterone), opium and heroin.