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Fragmenting a workable system

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A nurse practitioner (right) examines a newborn accompanied by the child's mother.

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A nurse practitioner (right) examines a newborn accompanied by the child's mother.

It is about time that nurse practitioners were included in the mix of health-care providers in Manitoba. However, it appears to me that the government is going about it the wrong way.

The government seems to be setting up an unnecessary parallel service that competes with family practitioners and walk-in clinics. A fragmented medical delivery service is both inefficient and wasteful.

The four clinics discussed in your Sept. 23 story, Manitoba's quick health-care fix, are budgeted to cost $3.2 million, or $800,000 per clinic. This by far exceeds what a family practitioner would cost.

When I was working as a urologist for the Mayo health-care system in Minnesota, I had a nurse practitioner who worked with me. More than half of what a urologist does can be done by a nurse practitioner. Together, we could see many more patients a day, and the public loved it.

I think the best use of solo practising nurse practitioners would be in underserved rural communities. The J.A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit should be the template to build on. These nurse practitioners work in an integrated system, with every conceivable medical backup at their disposal.

The current system of acquiring doctors for rural locations is to bring them in from the developing world. Sixty per cent of rural doctors come from countries in Asia and Africa. They tend to stay in the community for only two or three years and then move to larger cities where they have more cultural connections and a happier family.

Besides that, these are high-value opportunities that could and should be filled by bright young Canadians.

DR. HENRY KRAHN

Mesa, Ariz.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 25, 2013 A10

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