Aggressive Action for Emergency Care
Nova Scotia’s Minister of Health announced new initiatives today to ease the burden on emergency rooms across the province.
Michelle Thompson says it is all part of the Action Plan to ensure emergency services are readily available when care is needed.
The planning has been in the works for a while, but the minister says, “The recent tragic losses in Cumberland and Cape Breton have added to the sense of urgency.
The plan to improve emergency care will ensure people with the most urgent needs receive care first. It will improve ambulance response times and offer more places for people to receive care, easing pressure on emergency departments.
Thompson says, ”We've been making record-high investments and acting in all areas of healthcare since we formed government.” She added, "Everyone working in emergency care do all they can, day in and day out, to provide the best possible care for their patients. This plan should help them help their patients get the care they need more quickly.”
The Action Plan, which follows yesterday’s Healthcare Summit where Premier Tim Houston urged healthcare leaders to “Go like Hell” with ideas and innovations, adds nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and patient advocates to the doctor led teams in emergency rooms.
The goal is to give patients from ambulances and patients in waiting rooms the urgent care they need, quicker than before.
It includes patient advocates and care givers in the ER waiting room to ensure care is given to truly meet the need.
The move also calls for an expansion of virtual care services to lighten the ER load for less urgent cases.
They will also enhance the information flow with “real-time data” on where beds are available across the system and what tests or other actions are needed to get patients well and home more quickly, all intended to free up beds for others.
The action seeks to train more paramedics at more Community College Campuses, along with a tuition rebate of $11,500 to paramedics who agree to work in the province for at least three years.
The province will also provide more funding to train medical first responders who sometimes arrive at an emergency scene first.
A second air ambulance will be added to handle routine transfers for tests and treatment between Sydney - Halifax and Yarmouth - Halifax, allowing ground ambulances to stay in closer to home more often.
A big step to reduce crowding in emergency rooms will include support for new and existing collaborative family medicine practices so they can see more patients, expanding services in more pharmacies, adding hours for virtual care appointments — even to out-of-province doctors who are licensed here to offer virtual care — providing more mobile primary care, mobile respiratory care clinics, and urgent treatment centres.
Nova Scotia will launch a new phone app, known as a digital front door, that will help people find the right services for their needs and where they are offered.
Improving emergency care is seen as a critical part of the government's broader strategic plan to improve healthcare.
The 1st Vice President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU) welcomed today’s announcement. Hugh Gillis says it reflects a number of concerns the union raised on January 9th.
While Gillis says more money and incentives are required “to effectively keep experienced health care professionals in areas of high turnover and specialized need, such as the emergency department.”
Gillis noted, “As the union representing almost 15,000 members working in the acute health care sector, we are pleased with the actions outlined today, and will continue to share frontline workers’ concerns and constructive ideas for improvement.”
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