New Bridgewater doc accepting 150 patients

- Keith Corcoran, 17 September 2013 in news

BRIDGEWATER - A new Bridgewater doctor is preparing to accept 150 patients.

Dr. Sheila Dwyer, from outside the Halifax area, joins the team of medical professionals at the new collaborative health centre at the Glen Allan Drive Medical Arts building when it opens this November, said Janet Simm, the local district health authority's health services vice-president.

Dr. Dwyer, who finished her family medicine residency in June after graduating in 2011 from Dalhousie University's medical program, starts taking on patients this week.

In a published advertisement, South Shore Health advised people who don't have a nurse practitioner or doctor or are travelling outside the district for care but wish to be one of Dr. Dwyer's patients to telephone a specific number on September 18 during the supper hour. The phone line closes once the 150-patient threshold is reached.

"After these patients are processed and seen by the doctor for an initial intake appointment, the phone line will reopen and additional patients will be accepted," South Shore Health said in a statement.

Callers need to have their MSI number ready and pass along a current telephone number. Immediate family members from the same household can be registered.

"It is expected Dr. Dwyer will accept a minimum of 1,000 patients in increments over time," South Shore Health explained.

Ms Simm said conversations had been taking place for months to coerce Dr. Dwyer to set up a practice in Bridgewater. She likes the area and has family connections here, Ms Simm said, but it's the commitment of a collaborative set-up that was a key recruitment factor.

The collaborative centre, currently under construction in the form of an 833-square-metre expansion of the South Shore Medical Arts building, is referred to as the Bridgewater and Area Family Health Centre.

"This will be the first trial of that," Ms Simm said of the centre's title. "Hopefully that will resonate with the community."

The centre's team will include as many as a dozen health-care professionals, including nurse practitioners, mental health and addictions services personnel, social workers, continuing care and palliative care resources and a family practice nurse, among others. Family practice nurses can't take on a patient load themselves but can work under the direction of a physician. They can also conduct procedures without a doctor present, such as pap smears or immunizations.

"It will be quite a comprehensive team," Ms Simm said.

The centre has two doctors confirmed for the centre, including Dr. Dwyer.

"We'll be happy if we, in the next year or so, have five docs committed to that. We think that's a really good starting point," she added.

"We have a ton of work left to do and a lot more recruitment so this isn't the end. This is the beginning but it is a really good solid footing for our collaborative practice here in Bridgewater."

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