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NPs Provide Leadership in Muskoka

NPs Provide Leadership in Muskoka Health Hub Model

Muskoka has received funding from the MOHLTC to host a three year demonstration project to provide primary health care to rural regions through the ‘Muskoka Community Health Hubs Implementation Committee’.  The Committee is made up of the Health Links Project Manager, the Executive Directors from each FHT’s, a Communications Consultant, a representative from the District of Muskoka, and three NP’s; Leanna Lefebvre, Lead of the North Muskoka Nurse Practitioner Led Clinic, Dana Strength, Lead of the Wahta Health Hub, and Donna Kearney, Implementation Coordinator for the Muskoka Community Health Hubs.  The Implementation Committee reports directly to the Muskoka Community Health Links Steering Committee, and is under the operational lead of both Cottage Country and Algonquin Family Health Teams (as required by the Ministry). 
The demonstration project consists of opening four rural Health Hubs; one in Wahta First Nation, which opened in May.  The second one will be in Port Carling and will open in a temporary location in July and then move to a larger permanent location in early 2016.  The third location is in Dorset, with an anticipated opening in September.  The fourth Hub will be in the form of a Mobile Unit, which is yet to be fully defined, but will ultimately provide primary care delivery to the most remote and vulnerable communities in Muskoka.
Each of the Health Hub sites will be staffed by a fulltime Nurse Practitioner and an Administrative support, and will offer primary care within the full scope of practice of Nurse Practitioners.  There will  also be a variety of Inter-Professional Providers rotating through each Hub to meet the full range of each communities’ human and health care needs.  A collaborative MD will be attached to each Hub to provide remote support for patients who either need a second opinion, or who fall outside of the NP scope of practice.  Each Health Hub will be outfitted with the most up-to-date technology to support ‘close to home’ specialist visits, referrals, and diagnostic reporting.  This model is very much NP designed and lead, despite our operating body being through the FHT.
The NP leadership of Leanna, Dana, and Donna has been evident throughout all phases of this project.  The initial design and proposal was written by Donna, to which the MOHLTC countered with some stipulations, such as the FHT being the operational body, before funding was granted.  Leanna and Dana were elected to sit on the Muskoka Health Hub Implementation Committee as the voice of primary care, and in an effort to ensure the values of being patient-centric, and of providing a holistic approach, are honoured.  Donna was hired as the Implementation Coordinator to work with all stakeholders, and set up each of the sites in preparation for opening, which includes Human Resource planning, IT systems development, ordering equipment and supplies, working with communities to develop site plans, policy development, budgeting, working to establish an evaluation framework, and other items related to the successful implementation of the project and on-going operations and evaluation.  Donna brought a wealth of knowledge to the project from her previous experience setting up, and providing NP services at the Rosseau and Area Nursing Station from 2003 to 2014. 

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