ALBERTON -- Matt Crossman, the general manager of Island EMS, says his company still doesn’t know the exact date this month when the Collaborative Emergency Centre model will be rolled out at Western Hospital in Alberton, but he said his staff is ready.
Health P.E.I. announced last spring that a CEC model would be introduced at Western Hospital in October in place of a 24-hour physician-staffed emergency room there. The emergency department had experienced numerous short-term closures this year when physicians were not available to staff the department. Since July physicians have been staffing the department from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. only.
Physicians will continue to be in the facility from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but once the CEC model starts, a Registered Nurse and an Advanced Care paramedic will staff the emergency department during the night.
Health P.E.I. CEO, Dr. Richard Wedge, was not available Tuesday to comment on when the new model of emergency care will start in Alberton.
Crossman said eight advanced care paramedics would take turns providing shifts in the emergency department.
“So eight different paramedics are going to be trained for that role and, then, they’ll rotate between their truck shifts and their CEC,” Crossman said. “The goal of that is, obviously, so that they maintain both competencies.”
Advanced Care paramedics, Crossman explained, can administer many types of drugs and they have more in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology than Primary Care paramedics.
To provide the CEC service on top of the regular ambulance duties, Crossman said Island EMS has had to add two additional full-time positions to its Western Region staff. “It’s a little bit of scheduling change for us, but it insures people are getting both their truck and the CEC practice,” he said.
Crossman said some members of his staff observed the CEC model at work in Nova Scotia and found that the nurses and paramedics worked well together. He’s confident the model will work well in Alberton
The CEC model in Alberton will have phone access with a physician when required. In the event a patient has to be transferred to another hospital, Crossman said an ambulance unit will be called in to handle the transfer, and the care during the transfer will be turned over to staff in the ambulance. The emergency department’s paramedic will remain in the emergency department.