PUGWASH – Nova Scotians living in the Pugwash area are already seeing the benefits of same-day or next-day medical appointments and 24/7 access to emergency care thanks to the collaborative emergency centre at the North Cumberland Memorial Hospital.
Premier Darrell Dexter joined representatives of the Cumberland Health Authority in Pugwash Wednesday to officially open the province's newest CEC.
"This government is committed to ensuring families across Nova Scotia have access to the care they need, when and where they need it," Premier Dexter said. "Collaborative emergency centres are an innovative solution that is helping to deliver on this commitment. In fact the model has proven so successful that other provinces are now jumping on board."
Since the Pugwash facility opened in September, more than 1,100 patients received care sooner from the team of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and paramedics that staff the centre.
Pharmacist Walter McCormack of O'Brien's Pharmacy in Pugwash said the collaborative centre has improved access to primary care for patients.
"People in the community have said there is more flexibility in the new system to see a physician or nurse practitioner," said McCormack. "Patients are finding it a little easier to see a provider for prescription renewals and other regular appointments."
The North Cumberland centre serves communities in north-eastern Cumberland County, including Pugwash, Malagash, Wallace, Wentworth and Northport.
"We're also investing in a new building for this CEC," said Dexter. "I look forward to returning to Pugwash, touring the new facility and seeing the positive change it will bring to the community."
The province is investing more than $2-million to plan and design the facility.
Cumberland Health Authority and Department of Health and Wellness staff will work with the community to develop a plan for the new health centre. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2014.
The community, led by the North Cumberland Community Health Foundation, will fundraise 25 per cent of the cost for the new building.
The Cumberland Health Authority is pleased with the success of the collaborative centre in Pugwash. Board chair Bruce Saunders said the authority is looking forward to a new building.
"It is clear that the CEC has enhanced the delivery of health care in this community and being able to offer our dedicated health care professionals and patients a new facility designed specifically to meet their needs will be yet another positive step forward," Saunders said.
Services at the collaborative emergency centre include: access to primary health care by a team of professionals, including doctors and nurse practitioners, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week, same-day or next-day access to medical appointments and 24/7 access to emergency care
Collaborative emergency centres are now open in Parrsboro, Springhill, Tatamagouche and Annapolis Royal. CECs have are also planned for Musquodoboit Harbour, Lunenburg and New Waterford.
Other provinces are following Nova Scotia's progressive and innovative approach to health care. Saskatchewan announced it will implement a similar model after visiting Parrsboro, and Prince Edward Island is also looking into adopting the model.
For more information on the province's Better Care Sooner plan, visit www.gov.ns.ca/health/bettercaresooner .