Health P.E.I. CEO optimistic
ALBERTON -- The first night of the Collaborative Emergency Centre model of care at Western Hospital Monday night went over well, suggests the CEO of Health P.E.I., Dr. Richard Wedge.
“We have to continually re-evaluate how it’s going,” Wedge commented Tuesday. “So far, we’re pleased that the first night went off quite well. I think we will really know after two or three months what sort of level of service is out there, whether we have to do any more training.”
The four Western Hospital registered nurses and the five Advanced Care paramedics with Island EMS who will take turns covering the 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. shifts, trained together for four days over two weeks to prepare for the new service delivery. That, of course, is in addition to the specialized skills they had already obtained.
“They were all ready and had all their processes ready,” Wedge confirmed.
Staff from CECs in Nova Scotia helped provide the training and Nova Scotia and P.E.I. physicians went over techniques and assessments with the CEC team.
On Monday night the RN/ACP duo saw four patients, Wedge reported. He said they were true CEC patients, arriving after 8 p.m. “These are people who had a health concern and wanted to have it looked at by somebody to try to find out what to do next, which is the whole point,” he said.
The third member of the overnight team is an emergency room physician. There are six physicians signed up to provide that service. Wedge explained they are not working in the emergency room but are available to provide on-line medical control for the CEC and for paramedics in the field. Health P.E.I. has negotiated a fee with the Medical Society for those 24-hour shifts. The physicians also receive a fee for each call they take during their shift.
The mayor of Alberton, Michael Murphy, on Tuesday welcomed the new service. “It means overnight emergency services will now be available every day,” he said; “it means stability and better access to emergency services.”
Due to challenges with physician availability, Health P.E.I. discontinued overnight (10 p.m. to 8 a.m.) emergency hours in Alberton early in the summer. There was no time since nighttime emergency hours ended that the emergency department had to close during the day, Wedge said.
The emergency room doors are now open at nighttime again, but with the department staffed by an ACP and an RN from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. It functions as a traditional emergency department with physician and nurse coverage from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wedge suggested the change should enable the area’s primary care physicians to see more patients in their offices each week than before, because they will not be working as many hours in emergency.
The CEO commended the staff of Western, their administrator and director of nursing for the work they did to get the CEC up and running and to make sure it opened safely.