Letter: Nurse Practitioners pleased to work autonomously in long-term care facilities

The Nurse Practitioners Association of Alberta (NPAA) is pleased with the provincial government’s recent amendments to the Operations and General Regulations of the Nursing Homecare Act (NHA). Nurse practitioners (NPs) have been given the ability to work as the primary care providers in nursing homes, assessing residents, prescribing medication as well as offering follow-up care and are working to ensure they changes remain permanent.

Since the start of the pandemic, the NPAA has been working on a list of NPs interested in being contacted for potential opportunities to assist during the pandemic. Many NPs are currently underemployed or unemployed and are wanting to assist during the crisis. In addition to this, there are many NP’s fully employed who have requested to do additional work outside of their current roles and work settings. We are thankful this list can finally be utilized, and we can lend a helping hand during this pandemic.

As reported by the Government of Alberta, seniors are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 as 503 cases of the virus have been discovered in continuing-care facilities, including 59 deaths. Though the government has recently announced plans to re-open the economy and resume non-emergency medical services, seniors remain the most vulnerable population and will likely be required to isolate even after all social distancing measures have been lifted. Having nurse practitioners employed in long-term care facilities means that seniors can continue isolating while receiving the care they need.

Long-term care facilities also benefit from having their on-staff physician’s workload reduced as well as now having a less costly option available during uncertain economic times. Unlike RNs, NPs are in a unique position to provide comprehensive health assessments, treat and manage chronic illnesses, order and interpret diagnostic tests as well as prescribe some medication.

The NPAA has been working in collaboration with AHS and leading practitioners to expedite these regulatory changes and will continue to work with AHS and the government to reduce regulatory red-tape and identify more ways nurse practitioners can be utilized to meet the province’s healthcare needs.

Mary-Elizabeth Cooper RN MN NP
President NPAA

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