Alberta grant allows for expanded hours, more nurse practitioners at health centres

Grants have been given to The Alex Community Health Centre to fund multiple nurse practitioner projects for Albertans. It’s a step closer for Albertans to have 'on-the-go' health care. Ali Kovacevic / Global News

Alberta Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne says four nurse practitioner projects involving mobile bus units will focus on aiding Albertans with higher medical needs.

Boyle McCauley Health Centre, The Alex Community Health Centre, Pure North S’Energy and CUPS will receive a total of $10 million over three years split between the four groups. This will give nurse practitioners the opportunity to work with both registered and licensed practical nurses.

Alberta’s goal with the Alex buses are to provide “first-stop” medical aid along with ongoing health assistance when needs are high.

With the program underway, CEO of The Alex Community Health Centre Shelly Heartwell said at a Friday event they will offer extended hours for more clients to access their services and open up evening and weekend hours when traditional clinics aren’t available.

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“We are excited that these funds are going to open up doors for these programs.”

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Heartwell said the funding will provide more hours to potentially hire a mental health therapist, as mental health issues are a big part of the client population at the Alex Health Centre.

“We can provide increased mental health care, addiction supports and systems navigation, allowing us to provide quality care for an increasing population of vulnerable Calgarians,” Heartwell said.

Eric Lavoie, president of the nurse practitioner association of Alberta, said there are roughly 500 licensed nurse practitioners in Alberta to provide assistance on either acute or chronic disease management.

“We are pleased to be working collaboratively,” Lavoie said.

Lavoie acknowledged Albertans want a wide range of care close to home, with services that are cost effective. Both the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and the Municipal association of Alberta are calling for the integration of nurse practitioners across Alberta’s health care system.

“The Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta is keen to see Albertans benefit from nurse practitioner care across the health-care system,” Lavoie said.

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