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Changing prenatal landscape leads to changes at Health Unit

SIMCOE, FEBRUARY 9, 2017– The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit will no longer be offering prenatal and postnatal care nurse practitioner services as of April 2nd.

Introduced in 2002, the nurse practitioner’s role in public health was created in response to a gap in healthcare in rural communities. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit employed one nurse practitioner to address this gap in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties.

The nurse practitioner’s role included providing care for the first part of the woman’s pregnancy, and then transitioning them to primary care physicians and midwives for the latter part of the pregnancy.

The healthcare services landscape has continued to evolve since that time, leading the Health Unit to reevaluate their provision of these services.

“As primary care and prenatal services in our communities have continued to expand, the opportunity now exists to enhance continuity of care to clients by connecting them to these services from the onset of pregnancy,” explained Dr. Malcolm Lock, acting medical officer of health for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

The Health Unit, under the guidance of Dr. Lock, will proceed with making plans for the safe transition of care for existing prenatal and postnatal clients. Careful attention has gone into planning for particularly vulnerable individuals, especially those with lower socio-economic status, including the Low German-speaking Mennonite population.

The Health Unit staff and Board of Health recognize that the importance of options for women in prenatal and postnatal care, and the decision to end their delivery of the nurse practitioner services was not an easy one.

“These decisions are difficult and emotionally charged,” added Dr. Lock. “We want to reassure the community that a methodical and thoughtful approach was behind the decision and that this truly is in the best interest of continuity of care.”

In addition to prenatal and postnatal care, the nurse practitioner role has responsibilities in sexual health as well. These sexual health services, including birth control counselling, will continue to be offered.

Other related public health services will continue as well, including:

  • Prenatal classes at various locations across Haldimand & Norfolk, as well as an online option;
  • Healthy Babies Healthy Children home visiting program for families with risk; and
  • Breastfeeding support


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Media contact:

Susan Taylor

Director, Public Health

Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

[email protected]

(519) 426-6170 Ext. 3218