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June 16, 2009
For immediate release

Integrated Health Care Changes Progressing in West Prince


The Department of Health is making significant progress on various health care initiatives and change projects announced by Government last fall in conjunction with the release of the Corpus Sanchez Health System Review.

“I am pleased with the progress we have made and continue to make on health care commitments to the residents of West Prince,” said Health Minister, Doug Currie. “While it is important to proceed with integrated change at a pace that allows our dedicated health care team to provide safe, quality care, it is also important to bring these services to residents of West Prince as quickly as possible. In a short time, we have taken many positive steps forward which are in keeping with Government’s overall vision of One Island Future - One Island Health System.”

Since last fall, the Department of Health and the health care team in West Prince have been working to bring more services and improve current services to the area residents.

Some of the activities and progress to date are summarized as follows:

• As of mid-December 2008, the emergency department at Community Hospital O’Leary (CHO) began to function as an Urgent Care Centre (hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. / Saturday and holidays; 8 a.m. - 4 p.m./ Sunday; closed). The Western Hospital’s Emergency Department continues to operate on a 24-7 basis, acting as the regional centre for emergency services.

• West Prince medical staff are working collaboratively to provide coverage for the Urgent Care Centre at CHO and the Emergency Department for Western Hospital. Physicians also continue to provide coverage at Beechwood Health Centre. A master physician schedule for Urgent Care and the Emergency Department was implemented April 1, 2009. Physicians have admitting privileges at both hospitals and hold regular, joint meetings.

• Over the past 6 months, Urgent Care services were available daily in West Prince; health human resource shortages resulted in services being unavailable for one day only.

• The Urgent Care Centre has seen 5,221 patients from December 17, 2008 to June 9, 2009, an average of 36 patients per day (12 hours/ day, Monday - Friday; 8 hours/ day Saturdays and holidays). Over the same period, an average of three physicians per day at Beechwood Health Centre saw 7,605 patients, an average of 21 patient visits per physician per day (9 hours/ day, Monday - Friday only).

• A reduction in the number of physicians available for booked appointments at Beechwood Health Centre was experienced as a result of physicians being required to cover both the Urgent Care Centre at CHO and the emergency department at Western Hospital. To resolve the issue, Beechwood Health Centre began booking 15 scheduled patient appointments per day (Monday through Friday) at the Urgent Care Centre.

• CHO will also serve as home to the new West Prince Regional Diabetes Program and Addictions and Mental Health Services. Staff for these new services will be in place this fall. The new services will be provided at Beechwood Health Centre, which will be located with Urgent Care Centre at CHO. Space and staff planning for this initiative are currently well underway. Ground will break this August for new infrastructure construction, with anticipated move-in late Spring 2010.

• The Department of Health’s Recruitment and Retention Secretariat continues to aggressively recruit three additional physicians to the West Prince area. These additional resources will both relieve the work load of current physicians and increase residents’ access to primary care.

• As part of Government’s Integrated Health Care change initiative and as outlined in the Healthy Aging Strategy released in February 2009, Government has committed to a 15-bed expansion in the Margaret Stewart Ellis Wing of the Community Hospital in O’Leary. This infrastructure investment will increase capacity from 25 to 40 beds and align the region’s long-term care capacity with the rest of the province. Staff will continue to participate in the functional planning process this summer and fall, with construction expected in spring 2010.

The Government of Prince Edward Island is committed to improving health care services for residents of the West Prince area. These changes are in line with Government’s One Island Health System vision for all Islanders. As Government continues to work through integrated health care change, continued input and support from all our health care partners and our communities is critical to complete the further development and implementation of the plan that will fulfill this vision over the next three to five years.

Media Contact: Laura Jones
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