AMHERST – Cumberland County’s three collaborative emergency centres are continuing to attract national attention.
Officials from Prince Edward Island will be in Springhill on Thursday to visit the CEC that’s operating at the All Saints Hospital. Both Health Minister Doug Currie and Finance Minister Wes Sheridan will tour the hospital with representatives from the Cumberland Health Authority and Health and Wellness.
“It’s a testament to the fact the model works,” Cumberland Health Authority CEO Bruce Quigley said following Monday’s meeting of the Amherst Rotary Club. “The primary benefit is improved access to primary care which is what Dr. John Ross’ study showed was the primary problem. People were going to ERs at night because they could not get into see their family doctor.”
Authority board chairman Bruce Saunders spoke to Rotarians about the success the county’s three CECs are experience and both he and Quigley answered questions about the system and the attention it’s garnering.
Saunders said the initiative is gaining more attention nationally with interest coming from the health ministers’ national conference and from every province with the exception of British Columbia.
Last year, officials from Saskatchewan visited the CEC at South Cumberland Community Care Centre and representatives from this province and the health authority attended a meeting in Saskatchewan to discuss the system that sees a collaborative approach taken to primary care with nurse practitioners working with doctors and other primary care professionals during the daytime and nurses and paramedics staffing ERs overnight with physician oversight.
Saunders said the establishment of the collaborative centres was not intended to save money, but to provide a more efficient way for people to get quicker access to health-care providers without having to wait weeks or months to see a family doctor.
“It’s really cost neutral, but at the end of the day patients don’t wait four to five weeks to see their family doctor. It’s usually a day, maybe two. That’s the whole plus factor,” Saunders said.
Parrsboro’s was the first CEC to open in the province, followed last year by the one at All Saints. The CEC at North Cumberland Memorial Hospital opened in September. Saunders said from frequent closures at all three facilities, there have only been three service reductions. Despite this, the centres still had nurse practitioners on duty that were able to handle more than 80 per cent of cases that come through the door.
While there were concerns when the new model was first introduced, Quigley said the reaction has been positive since then.
“What we’re hearing from the public now is that they are extremely supportive,” Quigley said.
Three of the province’s six CECs are located in Cumberland County.
Quigley expects the existing CECs to be reviewed in the coming year to see how effective they have been, while he also expects there to be some minor tweaking.