The Emery-Keelesdale Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (EK-NPLC) will have its grand opening on Thursday, May 31. The clinic is the first of its kind in Toronto and clinical director, Maurice Michelin, paints a picture of a typical day and what new clients can expect to find during a visit:
“It’s a bright place, built a year ago, that is wheelchair accessible with natural light streaming in from huge office windows. As you walk in, you will find our receptionist, Maria, either answering phones or making referrals or greeting patients.
“After presenting a valid health card, you will fill out an intake form, and then you are received in the clinic’s waiting room where the role of the nurse practitioner is explained. The nurse will talk to you about assessments, and put your lab work in place.”
Michelin responded to a Ministry of Health program for nurse-led clinics back in June 2010, after reading a report about the underserved residents in the Jane and Finch area. He thought this was the perfect opportunity to address health issues in the community, so with the help of his business partner, Tarek Towfeq, he got the ball rolling. Today, Emery Keelesdale, which is located at Keele St. and Eglinton Ave. West, serves as a satellite clinic, the first of two where nurse practitioners are the main health care providers.
“We do work in collaboration with doctors when necessary, but our focus is on promoting health and wellness as well as screening programs,” says the McMaster University graduate who holds degrees in Biology, Psychology and Nursing and who also studied in the Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of Toronto.
Michelin, who has had a varied work experience that comes from working in remote areas of Northern Ontario as well as busy downtown Toronto, believes that health care is moving towards a team approach.
“The way health care is practised, nursing is meant to provide a more professional service,” he said.
While there is a family physician on staff at the clinic, with whom the NPs consult in more complicated cases, and a Board of Directors that advises the not-for-profit organization, the level and quality of service that one will typically find at the Emery-Keelesdale clinic is on par with care provided by physicians. The only difference is that the nurses’ ability to administer medical care is on a grander scale.
“The biggest challenge has been educating the public about NPs,” said Michelin. Traditionally, nurse practitioners hold graduate-level education and treat both physical and mental conditions via history taking, physical exams and diagnostic tests. Nurse practitioners also provide treatment for patients and prescribe medication when necessary.
“We provide primary care services,” he said.
Michelin says that the goal at Emery-Keelesdale is to treat patients of all ages with a focus on two groups based on the needs of the population – youth and seniors. With youth, it is about reaching out to the Toronto District School Board and its agencies. For the senior component, Michelin is working with St. Clair West Services and clientele to put a new program together.
Among its other major services, the satellite location sells and dispenses medication and orders lab tests, x-rays and ultrasounds. The nurses also have the ability to refer patients to specialists.
The satellite location is by appointment only, which ultimately means shorter wait times.
While Michelin takes on few patients as a nurse in a small practice, he is dealing more with the administrative aspect of the clinic. By working in both capacities he says one area of work often informs the other.
“Running the clinic has impacted my business sense, particularly where putting together contracts, managing staff and dealing with vendors are concerned,” he said.
“I see things from a broader sense, with broader trends – the whole picture,” he said.
In approximately eight to 12 months, a proposed main location will be up and running. And, in the future, the NP-led clinic will have four NPs on hand, pharmacists, a health promoter, registered dietitians and a social worker.
While the goal is for NPs to see unattached patients, Michelin stresses that there has to be a good fit between NPs and patients. Patients who are comfortable with this structure of care can call to make an appointment.
With a promising vision for health care that assists the residents, the clinic is already on its way to making a difference.
Emery-Keelesdale Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic is located at 2562 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 102. For more information, call 647-476-1351. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By ANGELA WALCOTT