November 18, 2008
For immediate release
Province Release Consultant’s Report on the Island’s Health Care System
The vision set out in the consultant’s report is consistent with the Government’s own vision for health care, and the province understands the challenge of accepting a new vision for health care – the Government of Prince Edward Island is committed to the concept of “One Island Community, One Island Future, One Island Health System.”
“I’d like to thank the hundreds of health care providers, public citizens and stakeholders who participated in the review,” said Minister of Health, Doug Currie. “Health care providers and system leaders from communities across Prince Edward Island shared their insights and experiences with Corpus Sanchez International with one goal in mind: to ensure the sustainability of the health system and provide improved health services to all Islanders.”
Although many aspects of the new vision require considerable consultation with health care workers and stakeholders, the province is moving ahead on several initiatives.
For example, beginning in 2009-2010, government will invest an additional $1.5 million in home-care programs to extend health care. Government has also made progress with a program to modernize long-term care, including the timely replacement of Island manors, and enhancing the range of services provided to Islanders through the improvement of long-term care delivery.
Government is expanding the search for health care professionals beyond recruitment to explore new models of care. These new models will depend on the skills and abilities of health care providers to include initiatives such as expanding the use of nurse practitioners, increasing the training level of our paramedics to level III, ensuring that Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Resident Care Workers are maximizing their skills and education, and allowing pharmacists and optometrists to have certain prescribing rights.
Government is committed to reducing the cost of emergency care and, beginning April 1, 2009, senior citizens will no longer be required to pay for emergency ambulance services. The elimination of all emergency ambulance service fees will be complete once we have secured the required number of paramedics to safely implement this initiative. The province will also provide funding to existing paramedics to allow them to upgrade their training.
The province will also develop criteria and a decision-making process to assess the health needs of a community when making decisions about community health centres.
In keeping with the advice government has received, the existing emergency department at Community Hospital in O’Leary will begin to function on a 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. basis as an urgent care centre. Western Hospital’s emergency department will continue to operate on a 24-7 basis and will act as the regional centre for this service. New investments will be made at Community Hospital in long-term care and capacity will grow from 25 to 40 beds.
Community Hospital will also serve as home to a new West Prince Regional Diabetes Program and addictions and mental health services. These services will be provided in the Beechwood Clinic, which will be relocated to Community Hospital. Government will also work with health care workers in other community hospitals to see how the urgent care model can be expanded where no emergency department services currently exist.
Changes will also be made to our health care governance model. It is essential that there is a board structure that goes beyond advocating for specific facilities to one that is more broadly based in its perspective and scope. To help design this new governance model, a Minister’s Advisory Council will be developed, which will come into place January 1, 2009.
This new council will be asked to make recommendations on the development of a new province-wide governance model to oversee the delivery of health care on the Island and will report back by the Summer of 2009. Additional details on the launch of this Council will be provided in the days ahead, including announcing the individuals who will be leading the new advisory council. In preparation for this new model and a new province-wide system of governance, the existing health boards are being dissolved by government.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the Board members for their service and dedication displayed during the term of their appointment,” said Minister Currie.
The complete Corpus Sanchez Report, entitled “One Island Future - One Island Health System; A Call to Action: A Plan For Change” is available online at: www.gov.pe.ca/go/oneislandhealthsystem.