Improving community access to primary health care has been the biggest benefit of a model of care introduced in 2011, says a consultant evaluation.
Mary Jane Hampton, a health care and social policy consultant, evaluated seven of the province?s eight collaborative emergency centres established to address chronic, unplanned emergency department closures.
“Residents of these communities had relied on emergency departments because they didn’t have ready access to their primary health care provider,” said Ms. Hampton. “By expanding collaborative health teams, extending their hours into the evening and weekends, and guaranteeing same-day, next-day appointments, people have been able to get more appropriate access to care.
“One of the results has been a significant drop in unplanned emergency department closures in these communities.”
Care Right Now: Evaluating the Collaborative Emergency Centre Experience in Nova Scotia used data, focus groups at each site, and an online survey with health care providers, health authority management and the provincial advisory team.
“CECs achieved what they set out to do, but there are some improvements that can be made to better manage resources and support the teams that are providing care,” said Ms. Hampton.
The report’s 18 recommendations include:
— considering alternative models for overnight emergency services
— improving standards, policies and practices
— improving information technology systems to share patient information across health systems
— public education about services available in their communities
— supporting team development among health care workers
Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine thanked Ms. Hampton for her work and commits to visiting each site and other interested communities to hear from Nova Scotians and health care teams about what they think of the report’s findings.
“This evaluation clearly found that individuals and families were in need of better primary health care,” said Mr. Glavine. “I know more Nova Scotians are in the same situation today, and this report will help spark conversations within communities, districts, and the new provincial health authority about how to move forward.”
Government will continue to support approved construction projects and consider new requests next year.
There are centres in Annapolis Royal, Musquodoboit Harbour, Musquodoboit Valley, New Waterford, Parrsboro, Pugwash, Springhill and Tatamagouche.
Government paid $88,000 for the evaluation and final report. It is available at http://novascotia.ca/dhw/publications.asp .