ST. PETER’S: A doctor’s office has closed and a local pharmacy is trying to get the word out to patients as to what to do next.

Dr. Yvonne Nault recently closed her office in St. Peter’s for an undetermined period of time. Following the news, MacDonnell’s Pharmacy offered information for concerned residents in a Facebook post. Pharmacist Paul Zinck said pharmacies received a fax from Dr. Nault saying that she had to close her office “due to unforeseen circumstances” for an undefined period of time.

“We knew the people that were her patients were going to be at a loss for what to do,” said Zinck. “I don’t think they were going to be getting direction from anywhere else outside of the pharmacies so I thought it was one way to get word out and also to make people aware who weren’t aware of it yet.”

Zinck said pharmacies are legally able to extend prescriptions up to three months in certain circumstances for people who require ongoing medications. He also said there is a walk-in clinic in Arichat on Saturdays and Monday evenings.

“What would be, hopefully, the last option would be people having to go to the Strait-Richmond outpatient department and wait there,” he said. “It’s not really a great use of that facility for people to have to do that but if they have no other options, that’s the next thing.”

The Facebook post also encouraged people to call 811 to be placed on a list of patients needing a doctor. The post stated the list “is a factor in placing patients with physicians when there is an opening in a doctor’s office. The Web site can also be accessed at: needafamilypractice.ca.”

The Reporter contacted Dr. Nault but she did not comment on the matter.

“The family physician you are asking about is in private practice and has made us aware in the past few days about an unexpected leave,” stated Greg Boone, communications and public relations staff with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “Where possible, NSHA Eastern Zone will support options for the physician’s patients in that area as we work to learn more about the impacts of the leave.”

The Facebook post from the pharmacy provided more direction to the public.

“The pharmacists are not allowed to extend certain medications, including benzodiazepines, sleeping pills and opiate prescriptions, nor can they extend certain medications requiring extra monitoring and blood work such as warfarin or methotrexate,” stated the post.

The post also stated the government and private insurances do not pay pharmacists for their time and documentation to extend these prescriptions, adding there is a charge of $25 for a visit to have prescriptions extended.

“Our pharmacists are also able to prescribe for a list of minor ailments for patients,” the post continued. “These conditions include seasonal allergies, acid reflux, hemorrhoids, mild muscle and joint pains, emergency contraception, thrush, fungal skin infections, vaginal yeast infections, cold sores, mild acne, mild to moderate eczema, impetigo, and smoking cessation. Once again, the government and most private insurers do not pay for pharmacists’ time and expertise for these services, leaving us to charge the public a fee of $25 for an assessment of these short-term conditions.”