von logo

Hub Staff

In Council Chambers March 25 as part of an Information Report prepared by Saugeen Shores CAO David Smith, National Director Nurse Practitioner Shari Comerford gave an update on the VON (Victorian Order of Nurses) Nurse Practitioner that currently services Saugeen Shores.

Comerford began with a bit of history, informing Council and attendees that the VON is the longest standing not-for-profit organization in Canada and has been in existence for over 120 years. Throughout its lifespan the VON has stayed true to its origin of “innovation and tenacity and courage to bring remarkable, comprehensive healthcare to people.”

Comerford also explained the scope covered by Nurse Practitioners and pointed out how it continues to expand. Currently a Nurse Practitioner can carry out physical exams, assess, diagnose, order diagnostic testing, prescribe and renew prescriptions. Comerford was optimistic that next year will see MRI and CT scans added to their services. In other words, a Nurse Practitioner can act as your primary healthcare provider.

A series of VON models across Ontario provide healthcare to 13,500 patients. 2018 saw 40,000 primary healthcare visits to a Nurse Practitioner. The VON holds 13 contracts with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Saugeen Shores being one of these. Colleen Fowler works as a Nurse Practitioner out of the Saugeen Shores Medical Clinic and manages over 600 patients.

Comerford advised the Town that Fowler will be required to move out of the Medical Clinic to be able to adequately deal with the patient medical records and gain a level of control over her patient’s charts to meet VON standards. An additional benefit to moving Fowler to a new space is the potential to make room for a second Nurse Practitioner to Saugeen Shores.

Comerford announced to Council that she has acquired permission from the Ministry of Health to revive a dormant contract that was not being filled, provided they can find an appropriate location for the Nurse Practitioner. Because of the strong support and positive outcome the VON has experienced with Saugeen Shores, Comerford proposed this community as the recipient of this Nurse Practitioner and is working with Smith to finalize the partnership agreement.

An additional Nurse Practitioner could potentially double the number of patients serviced in Saugeen Shores by the VON. Mayor Luke Charbonneau was especially excited about the prospect of being able to provide a healthcare option for transient people such as cottagers or contract workers.

“We have a lot of transient people in our community every year who are away from their physician,” the Mayor explained. “That’s a huge opportunity and will be a great benefit for our community.”