'The list worked for us': New Cumberland County residents become collaborative family practice patients through provincial registry

Elmer and Gladys Dow moved to the Parrsboro area from Barrie, Ont., last January to care for his mother, who was 103 years old.

When applying for a Nova Scotia MSI card from Access Nova Scotia, he asked about finding a family doctor, and was directed to sign up with NSHA’s Need a Family Practice registry.

Also new to Nova Scotia and without a primary care provider, Kathy and Jim Kurchak moved to Springhill from Winnipeg to retire.

She had vacationed here as child with her family, and the community holds a special place in her heart.

“My husband and I visited Springhill in 2013 during our vacation, and he loved it too, so it set the wheels in motion to start planning to relocate here for our retirement,” Kathy said.

Both the Kurchaks and the Dows were on the registry for about eight months before receiving a call to become patients of the Springhill Primary Health Care team.

“We got our heath cards in the mail, and then one day we got a phone call about making an appointment with a doctor,” Gladys said. “I was quite pleased that it was so quick, since when you’re our age, you’re not totally healthy. But we didn’t just go to a doctor, we saw other staff at the clinic as well. Everybody is so wonderful there, they really know what they are doing.”

The Springhill Collaborative Family Practice team has three family doctors, two nurse practitioners, a family practice nurse and clerical staff. Together, they provide comprehensive primary health care for the Springhill community.

“After we had our initial appointment with the doctor, who spent a lot of time with us asking lots of questions, our next appointment was with the family practice nurse for a complete physical,” Kathy said. “It turns out we both had high blood pressure, so the nurse gave us some suggestions. I didn’t realize how much sodium we were eating, and now I’m looking at food labels. We’ve made some good changes, and my blood pressure is going down.”

The Dows also completed a health history with the family practice nurse.

“Our next appointment after seeing the doctor was to meet with the nurse,” Elmer said. “She was incredibly thorough and professional. She went over everything to confirm our health, and now it’s all on the record for when we have future appointments.”

He is also pleased that everything has worked out for them by moving to Cumberland County.

“That list worked for us, and we are quite happy with the results, getting a doctor who grew up right here in Springhill. It’s also nice to be able to see who you need to at the clinic.”

Kathy admits that she had some apprehension about moving to a new community and not knowing when they might find a family practice that was accepting new patients.

“We moved here for the lifestyle, but it was scary to come to a new place and start all over again, not knowing anyone, and needing to find a doctor. In the last couple of years, it was all over the news about challenges with accessing care, but we had already bought a house, so we were coming,” she said.

“What’s great about having access to a team is that we can see (the family practice nurse) for follow-up on our blood tests, and that makes the physician available to see someone else. We are so thankful that this is all here in Springhill.”