AMHERST – Nova Scotia’s minister of health and wellness says his department is willing to work with the district health authority to alleviate some of the pressure faced at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
“Throughout the year there are times when we see pressures in the emergency rooms and the hospitals when it comes to capacity,” Dave Wilson said. “We see this through the year and in other districts. It’s not something new.”
Earlier this week, Bruce Quigley, the CEO of the Cumberland Health Authority, said the staff and patients at the area’s regional hospital are in a stressful situation brought on by a large percentage of beds being filled by either palliative care patients or those awaiting place in long-term care facilities.
Wilson the Cumberland district is working with other stakeholders to try to alleviate some of the pressures. He said the number of people being admitted to hospital is an issue and the province is working on bed management, trying to see if some patients can discharged.
“We’re trying to make sure patients have options. That’s why we invested another $22 million in the home-care initiative so we can have initiatives like Home First, which is a home care service for people who can be discharged from the hospital,” Wilson said. “If they can have that service at home it frees up a bed for someone who might be admitted, especially at times of the year when we might see increased visits to the emergency rooms and admissions to hospital.”
The key, he said, is not building more long-term care facilities as was done in the past. He said home care is a better option than an institutional setting. The government’s new home care programs will help hospital managers and the district health authorities by giving them options and making sure people have access to the care they need.
Wilson also understands the stress being faced by frontline health-care workers.
“We appreciate the work the physicians and health-care providers do on a daily basis especially when we see a hospital with a high admission rate or their capacity is almost full,” the minister said. “I hope they realize government is investing initiatives that will hopefully relieve some of those pressures.”
The minister said providing increased access to primary care, such as is being done through collaborative emergency centres in rural communities, should also help ease the strain.
“We will always need emergency rooms and hospitals for chronic illness and those emergency cases. If we provide the support for the services in the community, like access to primary care and home care, that will eventually help minimize the number of times we see a hospital in a time when they’re under pressure,” Wilson said.