Province’s Fifth Collaborative Emergency Centre (CEC) will open in Annapolis Royal

Transcript of statement made by Health and Wellness ministerial assistant Gary Ramey at ACHC November 18, 2011.

Before I begin I’d like to pass on the regrets of the Minister. I found out late yesterday afternoon the Minister of Health is a bit under the weather so I said I’d come in her stead today and I hope you’re not too disappointed with that.

Good morning everyone. Mr. McNeil, colleague from the legislature; honoured guests; ladies and gentleman. First of all I’d like to thank Annapolis Community Health Centre for welcoming us here today and besides that your town is beautiful.

So today, we’re proud to be here in this beautiful place to announce the creation of Nova Scotia’s fifth Collaborative Emergency Centre and in so doing we are fulfilling a key recommendation of the Ross report. Nothing is more important, I don’t think, to Nova Scotians than their healthcare and every one of us has had an experience with the healthcare system and we never underestimate the importance of it and the value it holds in all our lives.

Since last January, as part of the government’s commitment to Better Care Sooner, Minister MacDonald has traveled around the province talking with people about healthcare. She’s met with residents, community leaders, health care providers here in Annapolis Royal as well in Lunenburg, Tatamagouche, Spring Hill, New Waterford, Musquodoboit Valley and Canso. ¬†And a number of things from those discussions became clear to the Minister, they are the following. First more than anything else, Nova Scotians want peace of mind with regard to our healthcare. We want stability within our system, and we want to know that help is available should we ever need it.

In addition, what became clear, is that especially, especially in rural communities hospitals and clinics are not only places where people receive healthcare they are also—and I think it’s true of this community as well—they are also monuments to the community, testaments to what many Nova Scotians and have built over many years of hard work.

As time has passed however, the needs of our communities have changed and are healthcare system has had to evolve. This evolution is not always easy, and it comes with challenges and I'm sure you are aware of those challenges.

Here in Nova Scotia, as Dr. Ross has pointed out, we currently experience emergency department closures in rural areas and long wait times to see primary care doctors. Also, many people—particularly in rural communities—who go to emergency departments do not require emergency care.
In fact, over 90% of visits to smaller emergency departments are for problems that could be adequately treated in primary care settings. To help address these challenges, our government has committed to the establishment of Collaborative Emergency Centres (CECs).

A Collaborative Emergency Centre brings together Emergency Departments, local family practices working as a team to provide healthcare to Nova Scotians. A Collaborative Emergency Centre will be the first point of contact for patients. A person will go through the door, receive an assessment can be directed to the correct healthcare professional.

Separately a Collaborative Emergency Centre will provide:

  • Access to primary health care by a team of professionals which will include doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners for extended hours seven days a week;
  • Same day or next day access to appointments as needed, in many cases, this will enable symptoms to be caught early which may prevent emergencies or health crises from developing.
  • Advanced access to care which means that appointments will be left open each day for patients with more urgent needs.
  • 24/7 access to emergency care, nighttime care will be provided by a team which may include nurses and paramedics. ¬†These healthcare providers will work with the oversight of specially trained emergency room physicians.

 

Here in Annapolis Royal, decisions are still being made about the exact structure of this CEC because every community, as we found out, is unique.

Minister MacDonald recently received an update from Parrsboro on the community's reception of their CEC. Since its opening, around 2,600 patients have been seen during the day and over 100 overnight. In a recent community meeting, most people were very happy with the service they're receiving. We even heard a few compliments which is very gratifying. And planning for the opening of the two other CEC's in Cumberland County is moving along quite quickly.

I know that the Annapolis Valley Health Authority will be working with the community here and with officials at the Department of Health and wellness to develop the best possible CEC for this area. It is important to note this CEC will not begin operation until later this fiscal year. Time is still needed for the implementation process to unfold.

Our government believes that a CEC will benefit the Annapolis Royal community in a number of ways, and they are these.

First and foremost patients will have consistent, stable access to emergency care in the evening.

In addition, the people of this area will have better access to primary care during the day. Patients will get to see their family doctor before an urgent issue becomes a major health crisis.

Another benefit is that physicians will now have greater control over their work life and residents of the community will appreciate this stability; everyone knows what to expect.

The reason Annapolis Royal was chosen as a CEC site is that essentially, this community is ready for this change and we've heard that loud and clear from the DHA. As Dr. Ross pointed out, changing the system involves taking into account the district needs of each community and the distinct needs of that community as well.

It is about supporting communities in making the right decisions on how to match services to real needs. It's also about making the best use of time whether its doctors, nurses, paramedics or 811 nurse line and all that provide care as part of a more effective 24/7 emergency care system.

I would like to thank residents of Annapolis Royal, doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, paramedics and other healthcare professionals who work here as well as officials within the Annapolis Valley Health Authority for your leadership. In wanting to provide the best healthcare possible, you are improving your system in ways that are better for both patients and for the people who care for them.

Collaborative Emergency Centres are one commitment in Better Care Sooner, the government's plan for improving the system in Nova Scotia. Today I want to reaffirm the government's commitment to working hard and putting this plan into action.

We will also continue to rely on the ideas and energies in these communities and we will work through this journey together to improve healthcare across this province to deliver better care sooner with stability and peace of mind.

Thank you very much.

 

This site has been created by the Friends of ACHC who are a concerned group of citizens working with the Annapolis West Health Foundation (AWHF), Annapolis Community Health Centre Auxiliary (ACHC Aux) and the Town of Annapolis Royal.

Volunteer participation and public comments are welcome, please contact us at: