By Lawrence Powell
Annapolis Royal’s new collaborative emergency centre got the thumbs up from provincial Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson Friday at the Annapolis Community Health Centre.
The brief ceremony came 54 days after the centre opened its doors to the public and according to Annapolis Valley Health chair Betty Mason and AVH president Janet Knox, the CEC has been operating smoothly with good reviews from the public.
Mason said the centre is a great example of innovative care at work in the community.
"This shift in care delivery has been a change for the better in this community and we're proud to say that the feedback has been positive," she said.
The new collaborative emergency centre is keeping the emergency room open, reducing patient wait times, and providing a team-based approach that offers continuity of care. The intent is to ensure patients can get the appropriate treatment before a minor health issue becomes a health crisis.
“Your hard work and support to improve the health care system in your community is inspiring,” said Wilson. “By bringing together emergency departments and family practices to work as a team, we are providing better care for Nova Scotians, in a way that makes sense.”
More than 1,000 patients from the ACHC catchment area have already benefitted from the care of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and paramedics since the centre opened in September.
Wilson said that’s a clear indication that the Annapolis Royal CEC is already meeting the needs of residents, adding that the centre offers extended hours with weekend and same-day or next-day appointments.
“It has a team-based approach that offers continuity of care, so patients can get the care they need, when they need it, before a minor discomfort turns into a more serious health issue,” said Wilson.
He said as time passes, so do community needs.
“Changing the system means looking at the unique needs of each community, and supporting those communities to make the right decisions to match services to needs,” Wilson said.
"The collaborative emergency centre is a direct reflection of what we heard in the community -- needing access to emergency care, as well as primary care," said Knox. "We've put our people at the heart of this model of care, ensuring same-day, next-day primary care appointments and the community now has comfort in knowing they have a 24/7 safety net."
The services at the collaborative emergency centre in Annapolis Royal include:
-- access to primary health care by a team of professionals, including doctors and nurse practitioners, between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., seven days a week
-- same-day or next-day access to medical appointments
-- 24/7 access to emergency care.
Between 8:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m., a team, including a primary care paramedic and a registered nurse, staff the centre to ensure patients get the care they need. An oversight physician provides assistance by phone.
Nova Scotia has opened four other collaborative emergency centres since 2011 in Parrsboro, Springhill, Tatamagouche and Pugwash. One has also been announced for Musquodoboit Harbour.
Other provinces are following Nova Scotia's progressive and innovative approach to health care, said Wilson. Saskatchewan announced it will implement a similar model after visiting the one in Parrsboro.
“You can be proud that your community is a leader in changing emergency health care in Nova Scotia,” Wilson said. “Change that will provide better care for you and your families.”
For more information on the province's Better Care Sooner plan, visit www.gov.ns.ca/health/bettercaresooner.