Health authority has good year despite challenges
© Darrell Cole – Amherst Daily News
Cumberland Health Authority medical chief of staff Dr. Celina White, board chairman Bruce Saunders (centre) and CEO Bruce Quigley look over a copy of the organization’s annual report.
UPPER NAPPAN – The past year has seen the Cumberland Health Authority become a national leader in the delivery of emergency care through the opening of collaborative emergency centres in three rural communities.
Part of the province’s Better Care Sooner program, the collaborative centres have opened in Parrsboro, Springhill and Pugwash. Similar centres are being established across the province.
“At last year’s annual meeting we were pleased to report that the first CEC had just opened in Parrsboro and things seemed to be moving along very well. Since that time, two more CECs have opened in Cumberland County – one at All Saints Hospital in March and just three weeks ago, the third centre opened at North Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Pugwash,” health authority board chairman Bruce Saunders said during the organization’s annual meeting on Tuesday.
Saunders said the new models of delivery care through a team approach has doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, paramedics and other health professionals working together to provide quality health services.
This arrangement, he said, means physicians hours are concentrated during the daytime when patients need to see them the most. Because of this change, appointments with doctors and nurse practitioners are available during day and nighttime hours, seven days a week.
Overnight, registered nurses and paramedics, with oversight from an emergency specialist physician available by telephone, provide coverage. Patients seen at night are either released with directions for self-care, treated and released with directions for follow-up care or transported by ambulance to the regional hospital.
“While this represents a different way of delivering care, both patients and staff alike are reporting that they like the new model. Patients are able to see a health-care provider in a more timely manner, staff are enjoying working as part of the new collaborative team and physician time is concentrated during the daytime hours which is better for their patients,” Saunders said.
The CECs have garnered national attention as well. Saskatchewan’s minister of Rural and Remote Health visited the Parrsboro centre in mid-September and Prince Edward Island has expressed interest in the Nova Scotia model and officials from that province have had a preliminary visit to Cumberland County.
“All this has meant our district health authority is in the national spotlight as a leader in the development of an innovative way to deliver health care in rural areas,” authority CEO Bruce Quigley said.
Quigley said the health authority has been able to maintain a stable financial position despite declining government funding. He credits staff for making this a reality.
“To successfully operate a $64-million organization is no small task and we want to acknowledge the work of all staff who remain diligent in their efforts to stay within budget,” Quigley said. “During this past year, our financial obligations were even more challenging due to a request from government to work with a reduction in funding. Fortunately, we were able to achieve necessary cost savings while continuing to deliver quality health care that meets the needs of the community.”
Quigley said the health authority is working with its partners in Merged Services Nova Scotia that is reviewing a number of non-direct patient care services with the potential for some consolidation.
“This process has been ongoing since the fall of 2011 and while it is understandably stressful for staff whose jobs may be impacted, it is necessary as we struggle to focus health care dollars directly on the delivery of quality patient care,” Quigley said.
All Saints Springhill Hospital
Patient Days: 6144
ER Visits: 11,766
Booked Outpatient Visits: 5,895
Diagnostic Imaging Tests: 3,132
ECG Tests: 1,017
Lab Outpatient Registrations: 27,087
Bayview Memorial (Advocate Harbour)
ER Visits: 61
Booked Outpatient Clinic Visits: 531
Long-Term Care Occupancy: 90 %
Inpatient Days: 3,343
ER Visits: 21,226
Outpatient/Ambulatory Care Visits: 20,794
Day Surgery Patients: 3,509
Surgical Inpatients: 689
Total Admissions: 2,546
Total Patient Days: 21,518
Diagnostic Imaging Tests: 20,687
ECG Tests: 5,394
Mammography Screening: 3,078
Lab Outpatient Registrations: 27,087
North Cumberland (Pugwash)
ER Visits: 6,253
Booked Outpatient Visits: 796
Total Diagnostic Imaging Tests: 2,235
ECG Tests: 626
Lab Outpatient Registrations: 6,949
Total Patient Days: 609
Total Admissions: 86
South Cumberland (Parrsboro)
ER Visits: 2,560
Booked Outpatient Visits: 2,003
Total Diagnostic Imaging Tests: 1,012
ECG Tests: 382
Adult Day Care Visits: 1,789
Patient Days: 5,570
Long-Term Care Occupancy: 92.5 %
Lab Outpatient Registrations: 5,670
Cumberland Mental Health
Referrals/Consultations: 358 (Child); 1,074 (Adult)
Clinic Visits: 35,922
Total Outpatient Group Sessions: 313
Total Outpaient Group Participatants: 1,955
Total Community-Based Service Visits: 3,013
Prevention and Community Education Group Sessions: 142
Prevention and Community Education Group Participants: 1,885
Inpatient Beds: 10
Inpatient Admissions: 367
Inpatient Days Withdrawal Management: 2,053