One member of the Town of Stettler described a request for help funding a nurse practitioner as “…a little strange.” Councillors discussed the funding request which came from a local medical clinic at the Aug. 1 regular meeting of town council.

Town Chief Administrative officer (CAO) Greg Switenky presented councillors with a letter from Stettler Medical Clinic, which listed as its members Dr. M.M. Agwaze, Dr. W.S. Pretorious, Dr. J. Lombard, Dr. E. Vermeulen and Dr. J. Vermeulen, which requested financial support for expenses incurred by a nurse practitioner.

“Over the past few months Stettler Medical Clinic has made space available to Jody Thomas, a nurse practitioner,” stated the medical clinic’s letter dated July 3. 

“We motivated the Primary Care Network (PCN) to recruit her to Stettler after the passing of Dr. Drummond and when it became evident that Dr. Sun chose not to join Stettler Medical Clinic or make Stettler her long-term home.

“Jody has been a great asset to the community and has helped numerous patients who find themselves without a family physician. We work collaboratively to support her in her care for patients and regularly have discussions to help with more challenging patients. She does, however, work as an independent practitioner.

“The PCN employs her and we do not receive any remuneration from them to help support her costs, all covered by us as physicians of the Stettler Medical Clinic. 

Estimated costs, including rent, utilities, reception/admin staff wages and computer program fees are approximately $3,000/month.

“We are requesting assistance in this regard to continue supporting the valuable services she delivers in our community,” added the Stettler Medical Clinic letter.

Readers should note a nurse practitioner is a nurse with additional training and experience who handles some patients much as a physician would; some in the healthcare world feel nurse practitioners are an ideal way to provide healthcare services while reducing workload on physicians.

Switenky noted that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) has been working to get more nurse practitioners in rural areas. The CAO predicted Albertans will hear more about nurse practitioners in the future.

Mayor Sean Nolls suggested this request be discussed with the medical clinic and other members of the physician retention committee.

Coun. Wayne Smith asked if the town should respond to the clinic and let them know their request will be discussed. Nolls stated he will contact the clinic and let them know the request will be discussed at the physician retention meeting.

Coun. Smith stated he would like more information about why the nurse practitioner’s expenses were apparently unexpected. “That’s why I find the request a little strange,” said Smith.

Coun. Scott Pfeiffer stated he felt there would be town-owned properties that the nurse practitioner could use for office space. Nolls responded he would look into it.

Councillors unanimously passed a resolution to forward Stettler Medical Clinic’s request to the physician retention committee meeting.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 17, 2023 at 17:00

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta
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