Emergency rooms are staying open thanks to the province’s Better Care Sooner plan and the creation of collaborative emergency centres.
The fourth annual Emergency Department Accountability Report shows that Nova Scotians have significantly improved access to emergency care now, compared to four years ago.
The report shows the number of hours of closures has gone down 21 per cent since 2009, when the Health and Wellness department began collecting such data.
In the seven communities that have collaborative emergency centres, or CECs, that decline is even more dramatic, a 92 per cent drop in the number of hours the emergency department is closed.
“Our emergency care system is better across Nova Scotia, thanks to the nurses, paramedics, doctors and those work in Collaborative Emergency Centres and who’ve provided good care and helped change the system in order to keep emergency rooms open,” said Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson.
“CECs are a great new way to deliver better care sooner, a model that is being copies across Canada. We know that there are still some places where more improvements can be made, and we are listening to communities that tell us government can do even better.”
Nova Scotians living in communities with a CEC — Parrsboro, Springhill, Tatmagouche, Pugwash, Annapolis Royal, Musquodoboit Harbour and Musquodoboit Valley — now have stable emergency care and access to same-day or next-day medical appointments. Later this year, families in New Waterford and Lunenburg will see the same benefits when CECs in those areas open. Since Nova Scotia introduced the CEC concept, governments in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island have said they want to bring in the model.
“In many communities, Nova Scotians were waiting weeks to see a doctor and small rural emergency rooms were frequently closed,” said Mr. Wilson. “CECs have made a huge difference, creating reliable access to health-care services and better care overall.”
The annual accountability report is required under the province’s Emergency Department Closures Accountability Act. The act states district health authorities are to consult with their communities about closures, during public forums and to consider solutions, proposed by the community, to keep emergency departments open.
“CECs are community-based and locally managed solutions to the basic health care needs of Nova Scotians, while maintaining ready access to 24 hour emergency care,” said Dr. John Ross, the province’s emergency care advisor. “The innovative core teams of paramedics, nurses, and physicians, with support from many others, make best use of available resources.
“I am pleased with the decreased unscheduled emergency department closure hours and hope this will drive further change in how we deliver high quality health care in this province.”
The report, which provides data about the challenges facing the province’s emergency care system, helps government provide better health care to families across Nova Scotia.
According to the Accountability Report on Emergency Departments, in 2012-13, emergency departments in hospitals across the province were open 95.4 per cent of the time, overall. Twenty-five of the province’s 38 hospitals had no closures over that year. Thirteen hospitals did experience closures, for a total of 15,083 hours.
The Annual Accountability Report on Emergency Departments will also serve as a benchmark, so data can be compared and progress charted annually.
The report can be found at http://novascotia.ca/DHW/ .