Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics

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Butcher is a nurse practitioner and clinic director of Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics, which opened its first location on Riverside Drive in 2007.

She and nurse practitioner Roberta Heale applied to the health ministry and received funding to launch the clinic -- the first nurse-practitioner-led model in Ontario.

The women conceived the clinics as a way to respond to the needs of unemployed or underemployed nurse practitioners and help thousands of people in Sudbury and area who do not have a family doctor.

The model has been so successful the health ministry has approved funding for 25 similar clinics in the province.

Butcher, Heale and others involved in the clinics will announce details about the second location at a news conference Wednesday morning in Lively.

Butcher said she and her colleagues are excited about opening a second office because it will give them the space they need to offer a range of health-care services.

Expanding to a second location will give them space to hire a social worker, dietitian, pharmacist and registered nurse to assist in the practice.

Six nurse practitioners are treating about 2,000 orphan patients at the Riverside clinic. The number will at least double when the Lively clinic is up and running.

The former police station, which is owned by the City of Greater Sudbury, has about 3,400 square feet of space on two floors that will require "significant" renovation, said Butcher.

Architects are working on plans for the remodel and it should be ready by the end of October, she said.

Butcher is happy with the location because it will be easy to access for students, seniors and others who may not have their own transportation.

The board of directors that manage the clinics hoped to set up a second location in Dowling, but that plan fell through when it couldn't negotiate a deal with a private landowner.

"It has been a very long time in the making," Butcher said of the second site for which the health ministry is hoping to secure a long-term lease.

Butcher and other nurse practitioners will divide their time between the two locations, assisted by family physicians, Dr. Tara Leary and Dr. Susan Finlay.

When both clinics are fully operational, they should be able to handle about 4,500 patients -- people who wouldn't have access to primary health care otherwise.

Nurse practitioners have a wide range of responsibilities including diagnosing some illnesses, prescribing some medications and diagnostic tests and treating illnesses.

The Sudbury District Nurse Practitioners Clinics place strong emphasis on disease prevention and management.

All of that "is certainly a challenge," said Butcher.

"Expectations are very high" when you are opening your doors to thousands of people without a family physician.

One of the next hires she hopes to make is a pharmacist to deal with elderly patients who are on multiple medications.

The group was operating a part-time clinic in Chapleau, but the local hospital has hired its own nurse practitioner and the Sudbury-based clinic is able to concentrate on the needs of this area now.

Butcher said she and her colleagues are grateful to the City of Greater Sudbury for providing space for their second clinic.

"It certainly will be a significant site," she said.

Originally published in The Sudbury Star

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February 2024
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