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New Montreal clinic staffed by overtime nurses aims to ease ER pressures


A new clinic in Montreal’s east end celebrated its inauguration on Thursday. It’s staffed entirely by nurse practitioners clocking in on voluntary overtime with hopes the centre will relieve stress on nearby emergency rooms.

Staff at the brand-new CLSC Olivier Guimond spent the day preparing for their first patients. Manager Isabelle Besner-Leduc told CTV the clinic’s opening was long overdue.

“We needed it years ago, really,” she said.

When it’s fully up and running, the clinic should help to relieve pressures on the nearby Santa Cabrini and Masionneuve-Rosemont hospital ERs. On Thursday, both had occupancy rates at around 150 per cent.

Officials say, however, that a significant portion of people in ERs don’t need to be there, and could be better served in a clinic environment.

To become a patient at the Olivier Guimond, people first need to be referred to the clinic by a triage nurse or by 811.

“Nurse practitioners, because of their education, can diagnose illnesses,” said Lina Spagnolo, nursing director at the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Ile-de-Montreal. “They can prescribe diagnostic tests -- for example, an ultrasound.”

“The big advantage we have is we can be independent and use the training we have without having to use a doctor,” said Besner-Leduc.

For now, all the nurses at the clinic have jobs elsewhere and volunteer to take additional shifts. The centre plans to hire three full-time practitioners in the coming weeks.

Two other clinics like Olivier Guimond will open elsewhere in Montreal – one in Verdun, and another near Notre-Dame Hospital.

Meanwhile, the province is also trying to ease ER crowding by boosting telehealth staff.

“We need roughly 5,000 nurses that could be helping on the phone explaining to patients that are calling what are the symptoms, should they stay home, should they go to a pharmacist, should they go to the emergency room,” said Health Minister Christian Dube. Top Stories

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